04 April 2011

All Information is Not Created Equally: Breaking Down Levels of Evidence

I'm sure we all know that some information is better than others:  If you don't, go tell your Librarian that information you find on Google is good enough and you'll be sure to get a good breakdown of the levels of information quality.

 Don't get me wrong I love Google, I certainly use it myself as a starting point, but in the health field I certainly wouldn't end there.  Even within the Library the information resources are not created equally.  For example, the ever popular UptoDate is an excellent resource but many users may not realize it's classified as 'Expert Opinion' and therefore on the bottom of the Levels of Evidence Pyramid (as one would imagine Google doesn't make the cut onto the pyramid at all).  Knowing this: do you treat you patient with information sourced from a combination of a Google search and perhaps an 'expert opinion' resource?  Unfortunately this is all too often the case.  Of course the expert opinion resources are still excellent and created for use when time is at a premium but your Librarian can also help point you quickly in the direction of other resources that offer you a more comprehensive knowledge for your patient care.  These resources include the Cochrane Databases or Evidence Based Medicine Reviews, the TRIP database and more!  

Despite how it may sometimes feel, healthcare is not the business to be trying to turnover results as quick as can be:  patients need your expertise and your expertise needs to be based in high quality information.  Medical Librarians and Libraries are there to help you acquire this quickly from their resources and will most often offer training on these resources as well as evidence based medicine, level of evidence etc.  Contact them for further help, making your work easier and of better quality!

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