EBM & The Medical Librarian

In an attempt to blog my Mid-Atlantic Chapter Medical Library Association continuing education experience, I wrote the following post.  With the event having occurred over 2 months ago, I thought submitting to the public here would be better than leaving the item in the “pending review” category of the MAC-MLA WordPress blog, especially since I still refer to these notes when talking with my students.  Enjoy.

EMB? PICO(TT)? FRISBE?  What the frank?  As a new health sciences and nursing librarian, I’ve found myself encountering this new alphabet soup without a lot of context or deeper understanding of how to 1) identify meaning from these letter scrambles and 2) help my students, researchers, and clinicians with applying these concepts to their studies and practice.  Perhaps lacking all but the cape, Connie Schardt, Evidence Based Medicine Superhero, taught a great two-part session today on “Evidence Based Medicine and the Medical Librarian.”  While packets of close to 100 pages appear to overwhelm, they greatly helped support the session by providing hands on activities, such as how to identify a study or question from the abstract.  Patient problems, Intervention of a hypothetical test item, Comparison to other intervention options or placebos, Outcome review, and understanding the Type of question and the Type of study is a series of ideas that need a bit of mental unpacking that the activities definitely provided.  End of session Jeopardy rounds were also great ways to test our understanding in a more fast, fluid form way.  However, despite the traction gained in the first half, I personally found the evaluation component the most helpful and substantial to my ability to teach health information literacy.  FRISBE, not frisbee like the non-traditional golf game, provides a good checklist to help evaluate tests for bias.  From my own work, the search is never the hardest part of research.  For the bullet point friendly, FRISBE stands for

  • F – Follow up (no missing persons, please)
  • R – Randomized population assignments and concealed allocation of people to different groups
  • I – Intention to treat
  • S – Similar baseline between the randomized groups
  • B – Blinded service and treatment within the populations
  • E – Equal treatment of both populations

When we applied this scheme to an article, we could start fleshing out and justifying why an article was strong or weak in concrete terms.  Now, after sharing my comments from the afternoon, does anyone else have any advice, tips, or tricks for a new librarian to the field?


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