Janet Doe Lecture – “Linking Research to Practice: The Rise of Evidence Based Health Science Librarianship” – Joanne Gard Marshall

June 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Posted in Professional Development | Leave a comment

     Joanne Marshall became involved with clinical research at McMaster University in the early 1970s when many of us were still in college, graduate school or not even born. Working with Dr. David Sackett , head of clinical epidemiology and biostatics at McMaster, Marshall did a randomized controlled study on the impact of clinical librarians which was published in the “Journal of Medical Education.” Subsequently, she was awarded the Ida & George Elliot Prize for the most effective article in furthering medical librarianship. Dr. Sackett wanted to connect research to practice and defined EBM as “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.” In recent years, EBM has become another acronym in medical jargon and this was evidenced by being included in almost every session I attended at this year’s MLA meeting.
In 1992, Marshall published “the Rochester study,” a landmark study on the value and impact of hospital libraries on clinical care. I wasn’t working in a hospital library at that time, but I remember reading the original study and being awed that information provided to a clinician by a librarian could help diagnose a patient, change their course of treatment or point out the adverse effects of a particular drug.
     In her lecture, Marshall’s purpose was “to explore the extent to which research and evidence based practice are becoming a part of health science librarianship and to consider the impact of this international movement.” Marshall spoke about the importance of research in health science libraries over the years , including an early study done by Janet Doe in 1943.
In January 2013, the results of a new study which replicated the “Rochester study” was published in the “Journal of the Medical Library Association.” This collaborative study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23418404) included 56 library sites serving 116 hospitals and had 16,122 survey respondents. Planning for the study began in 2007 with a team from the NN/LM Middle-Atlantic Region, and the research itself was carried out by Marshall and her staff at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 75% of respondents said “ that they had definitely or probably handled aspects of the patient care situation differently as a result of the information [provided by the library].” However, one of the major differences between this and the earlier study, were the roles of librarians themselves. “The roles of librarians are diversifying to include management of electronic resources, user instruction and support, specialized research and clinical information search services, and involvement in institution-level quality improvement.” We should avail ourselves of this important data and use it to inform our administrators and hospital leaders that we do make a difference in patient care. Include similar questions on your next library survey and report your results to your advantage.
     What stood out during the Janet Doe lecture and throughout the other excellent sessions I attended, is that our colleagues are doing amazing research and supporting Evidence Based Practice both in medicine and in health science libraries.
     I want to thank NAHSL for this wonderful opportunity to attend MLA in Boston this year. It was my first MLA Conference and it was amazing to be surrounded by colleagues from around the world.
If you didn’t get to hear Joanne Marshall at MLA this year, you have another chance. She will be one of the Plenary Speakers at the NAHSL Annual Conference, October 27-29, 2013 on Cape Cod, http://nahsl.libguides.com/nahsl2013.

Jeanie Vander Pyl
Director, Medical Library, Cape Cod Hospital

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