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NHS Evidence; Google without the good bits

In Evidence-Based Medicine, search engines, Web 2.0 & all that, Website reviews on September 24, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Our other Alan wrote a piece a couple of posts ago on, amongst other things, this article in the Nursing Times. Basically it’s a press release for NICE, written by an implementation advisor for said large, powerful organisation. It describes how NHS Evidence will be so very useful for nurses, and I suppose it could be argued that it’s useful because the odd nurse (not literally you understand) may be flicking through the magazine, scan the article, and go and try out a bit of evidence hunting themselves. Surely a happy outcome.

But I fear that our odd nurse will only try out NHS Evidence once, maybe even twice, but probably not a third time. Why? Well, according to an issue of the Eyes on Evidence Newsletter (more PR from NICE) the top five most frequently used search terms were 1) asthma; 2) prostate AND cancer; 3) evidence; 4) flu OR influenza; 5) breastfeeding, so we get an idea of the level of sophistication behind most searches. Let’s try the top one, asthma. 5026 hits, including 516 guidelines and 1627 drug information pieces. You get the general idea. The first ‘guideline’ is  “Guidelines for the prevention, identification and management of occupational asthma: evidence review and recommendations”, a pretty hardcore 88 page PDF of an evidence review, complete with evidence tables, from the British Occupational Health Research Foundation. Not at all helpful, I would’ve thought, to our odd yet eager nurse. If s/he wanted a good review of what to with someone with asthma surely they’d just go to an evidence synthesis product, such as Clinical Evidence, CKS, Dynamed or the Map of Medicine.

The problem is that NHS Evidence’s obsession with Google means that their search engine suffers exactly the same problem as Google (too many hits) but does not have the same saving grace (that the one you really want is at the top). Plus, and this is still really the crux of my problem, I still don’t have a clue who NHS Evidence is meant to be for – neither, I think, do the people behind NHS Evidence. “All things to all people” often ends up as nothing to no-one.

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One Response to “NHS Evidence; Google without the good bits”

  1. Three comments on the NT article – all of them fairly evidently from librarians (you have to be logged in to see them). I wonder what the real target audience think? Will they be moved to comment?

    I was looking for something else and found a nice letter to the Lancet in reply to a piece by Dr Leng

    More to evidence than NHS Evidence.
    Skinner B.

    Lancet. 2009 Jul 11;374(9684):118

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