Navigating the current of surgical literature: the library as your landmark
22 Sep 2017
“Research is of no use unless it gets to the people who need to use it”
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health.
Staying up to date with current research is extremely difficult. In librarianship we talk a lot about information overload because we are acutely aware of how it affects our users. Some of the statistics from the medical environment are truly astonishing:
- In 2010, Bastian, et al. found that there were 75 trials and 11 systematic reviews being published a day (Bastian H, Glasziou P, Chalmers I (2010) Seventy-Five Trials and Eleven Systematic Reviews a Day: How Will We Ever Keep Up? PLoS Med 7(9): e1000326. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000326)
- David Sackett, a pioneer of evidence-based medicine, found in the 1990’s that to keep up to date in internal medicine it was necessary to read 17 articles a day, 365 days a year (Sacket, D. (2010) Strategies for coping with information overload. BMJ 2010; 341. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c7126)
- A simple Google Scholar search for “breast augmentation”, limited to the last 5 years, brings back about 23,100 results. One for “appendectomy” has about 16,700 results, and a search for “guidelines” with the exact phrase “cardiac surgery” has about 20,900 results (these searches were conducted on 21st July 2017)
Here are two ways the Library tries to assist our surgeons:
Current Awareness Updates
These Updates were specifically designed in response to a call from Fellows and Members for more support in keeping up to date with the latest surgical advancements. Updates are concise email summaries of the latest evidence and are sent to Fellows and Members once every two months. Information Specialists select articles based on interest areas and levels of evidence to ensure that the highest quality information, guidelines and policy are sent directly to the correct specialty and sub-specialty audiences. The Updates are also overseen by a panel of Specialist Advisors who have the clinical expertise to ensure the content is appropriate. There are currently five Updates available: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, Urology, Cardiothoracic Surgery and Emergency General Surgery. Three more are due to be launched in October (Paediatrics, Colorectal Surgery and Vascular Surgery) and three more in 2018 (Otolaryngology, Neurosurgery, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery). (Learn more and find out about Specialist Advisor vacancies.)
Literature Search Service
This service is useful for surgeons who have a specific question they need to answer. Our surgeons contact us to conduct a literature search for many reasons, including for the purposes of research, to answer a clinical question, and for presentations or papers. Surgeons fill out a simple online form and we use the information to build advanced searches on our Ovid databases: Medline and EMBASE. We also use other resources where appropriate, such as those from NICE and Cochrane. For those that would like to learn more about how to conduct searches themselves, we can assist in designing searches and can provide help materials on request. (Learn more or request a search.)
So don’t get lost in a sea of information, use your Library! We’re here for you.
Sarah Kennedy, Information Specialist