I haven’t really got into NHS Evidence yet, so maybe I’m missing something, but it all seems something of nightmare.
I want to look for guidelines, as you do, if you’re a medical informationy whatnot thingy. Let’s say I was looking for lower back pain and related conditions. The search “Low back or lower back or spinal pain or back ache or backache or Spondylolisthesis or scoliosis or Sciatica or “Spinal stenosis” or Lumbago” gave 1320 ‘guidelines’ (i.e. using the Guidelines filter) in NHS Evidence, 208 of which are apparently from NICE. This is silly. There’s no way that there are 1320 guidelines out there, or 208 NICE guidelines. In fact, when I look through a few of the results many of the hits were duplicates or ‘empty’ references. Do I really want to spend my time going though 1320 hits for a handful of useful guidelines. No, is the answer to that.
Now then, if I searched with the same terms in the good old fashioned Guidelines Finder (now a ‘specialist collection’), I get 47 hits. Forty seven useful and relevant (for the most part) hits, something I can quickly browse though and extract the few guidelines I actually want. Perfect. Does the job.
Therefore Guidelines Finder, at least for this common situation, is better than NHS Evidence. Much better. But Guidelines Finder might be under threat from the monster that is NHS Evidence. On the front page of Guidelines Finder they write: This collection is now NHS Evidence – national library of guidelines, and you will continue to be able to access all the content and features. The existing url for the collection will remain for now, but is likely to change later in the year as the specialist collections become fully integrated into the NHS Evidence portal. “Fully integrated” – sounds scary.
Now I know that NHS Evidence and the specialist collections are fundamentally different technologies, and both may have their uses, but in the age of information overload the collections rule – don’t you think? A request to NICE – please keep the specialist collections.