Effectiveness of training health professionals in literature search skills using electronic health databases—a critical appraisal


Kathleen M. Turtle Postgraduate Education Centre, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Chorley Hospital, Preston Road, Chorley PR7 1PP, UK. E-mail: Kathy.Turtle@lthtr.nhs.uk


The objective was to assess the effect on health professionals’ skills of one to eight hours literature search and retrieval training from electronic health databases. We searched: Cochrane library (2002; Issue 3), medline (1977–2002/5), embase (1980–2002/7); cinahl (1982–2002/5); assia (1982–2002/7), bni (1994–2002/5), eric (1985–2002/6); lisa (1969—current), NRR (2002, Issue 2), the world-wide-web and references. The selection criteria consisted of randomised controlled trials, controlled before and after, and controlled cohort studies in comparison with no training. The intervention had to be one to eight hours training in literature search and retrieval skills for health professionals. The outcome was the effect on health professionals’ literature search and retrieval skill levels measured through reliable instruments. For data collection and ana-lysis, one reviewer extracted data and assessed the quality of the studies and the second reviewer checked it. The results indicate that there is some evidence of positive impact on health professionals’ skill levels in literature searching and they find the training useful. In conclusion, the size of the positive effect is debatable as only three small and methodologically weak studies met the inclusion criteria and out of those only two showed the positive effect.