Information needs for making clinical recommendations about potential drug-drug interactions: a synthesis of literature review and interviews

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2017 Feb 22;17(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s12911-017-0419-3.


Background: Drug information compendia and drug-drug interaction information databases are critical resources for clinicians and pharmacists working to avoid adverse events due to exposure to potential drug-drug interactions (PDDIs). Our goal is to develop information models, annotated data, and search tools that will facilitate the interpretation of PDDI information. To better understand the information needs and work practices of specialists who search and synthesize PDDI evidence for drug information resources, we conducted an inquiry that combined a thematic analysis of published literature with unstructured interviews.

Methods: Starting from an initial set of relevant articles, we developed search terms and conducted a literature search. Two reviewers conducted a thematic analysis of included articles. Unstructured interviews with drug information experts were conducted and similarly coded. Information needs, work processes, and indicators of potential strengths and weaknesses of information systems were identified.

Results: Review of 92 papers and 10 interviews identified 56 categories of information needs related to the interpretation of PDDI information including drug and interaction information; study design; evidence including clinical details, quality and content of reports, and consequences; and potential recommendations. We also identified strengths/weaknesses of PDDI information systems.

Conclusions: We identified the kinds of information that might be most effective for summarizing PDDIs. The drug information experts we interviewed had differing goals, suggesting a need for detailed information models and flexible presentations. Several information needs not discussed in previous work were identified, including temporal overlaps in drug administration, biological plausibility of interactions, and assessment of the quality and content of reports. Richly structured depictions of PDDI information may help drug information experts more effectively interpret data and develop recommendations. Effective information models and system designs will be needed to maximize the utility of this information.

Keywords: Clinical; Clinical recommendations; Decision support systems; Drug information services; Drug interactions; Information needs.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical / standards*
  • Drug Information Services / standards*
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*