How to run an effective journal club: a systematic review

Authors

  • Y. Deenadayalan BPT IMMP BEHM (MBA),

    1. Researcher, Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, City East Campus, Adelaide, Australia
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  • K. Grimmer-Somers PhD MMedSci BPhty,

    Corresponding author
    1. Director, Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, City East Campus, Adelaide, Australia
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  • M. Prior BPhty (Hons),

    1. Researcher, Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, City East Campus, Adelaide, Australia
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  • S. Kumar PhD MPT BPT

    1. Deputy Director, Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, City East Campus, Adelaide, Australia
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Professor Karen Grimmer-Somers
Centre for Allied Health Evidence
University of South Australia
Division of Health Sciences
GPO Box 2471
Adelaide
SA
Australia 5000
E-mail: karen.grimmer-somers@unisa.edu.au

Abstract

Background  Health-based journal clubs have been in place for over 100 years. Participants meet regularly to critique research articles, to improve their understanding of research design, statistics and critical appraisal. However, there is no standard process of conducting an effective journal club. We conducted a systematic literature review to identify core processes of a successful health journal club.

Method  We searched a range of library databases using established keywords. All research designs were initially considered to establish the body of evidence. Experimental or comparative papers were then critically appraised for methodological quality and information was extracted on effective journal club processes.

Results  We identified 101 articles, of which 21 comprised the body of evidence. Of these, 12 described journal club effectiveness. Methodological quality was moderate. The papers described many processes of effective journal clubs. Over 80% papers reported that journal club intervention was effective in improving knowledge and critical appraisal skills. Few papers reported on the psychometric properties of their outcome instruments. No paper reported on the translation of evidence from journal club into clinical practice.

Conclusion  Characteristics of successful journal clubs included regular and anticipated meetings, mandatory attendance, clear long- and short-term purpose, appropriate meeting timing and incentives, a trained journal club leader to choose papers and lead discussion, circulating papers prior to the meeting, using the internet for wider dissemination and data storage, using established critical appraisal processes and summarizing journal club findings.

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