Better decision making with library search services

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 57, No. 6, July August 2015, Page 249 College Library

As high-quality medical information becomes more readily available online, straightforward clinical questions can often be addressed quickly. Point-of-care tools offer simple interfaces to current, evidence-based guidance for clinical decision making. The College Library offers two tools, BMJ Best Practice and First Consult, while another tool, UpToDate, is available from most BC health authority libraries and the provincial Divisions of Family Practice office. The utility of these tools, however, can be exhausted by clinical questions arising from care of patients with complex comorbidities and contexts. Whether an ensuing search for evidence to support a challenging question is conducted is often determined by whether clinicians have enough time and whether they feel efficient in selecting an information source.[1]

Literature search services by librarians at either the College Library or BC health authority libraries offer timeliness and expertise in locating high-quality evidence. Librarians have the knowledge to efficiently select resources and can devote the time needed for comprehensive information searches. Librarians use careful question analysis and controlled vocabularies to develop logical search strategies. Studies demonstrate that librarian-supported literature searching changes physicians’ approaches to patient care and results in better-informed clinical decisions and fewer adverse events.[2]

Literature search services for physicians are offered by librarians in six of the BC health authorities and for the entire province by the College Library. No annual limits are placed on the number of search requests made to the College Library, and every effort is made to respond within the requestor’s deadline. Contact the College Library at 604 733-6671 or, or your local health authority library.
—Karen MacDonell, PhD
Director, Library Services


This article is the opinion of the Library of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.


1.    Cook DA, Sorensen KJ, Wilkinson JM, et al. Barriers and decisions when answering clinical questions at the point of care: A grounded theory study. JAMA Intern Med 2013;173:1962-1969.
2.    Marshall JG, Sollenberger J, Easterby-Gannett S, et al. The value of library and information services in patient care: Results of a multisite study. J Med Libr Assoc 2013;101:38-46.

Karen MacDonell, PhD, MLIS. Better decision making with library search services. BCMJ, Vol. 57, No. 6, July, August, 2015, Page(s) 249 - College Library.

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