How do medical librarians make a difference?

Let’s celebrate the Medical Librarians Month by reviewing two studies led by Joanne Marshall (1992 & 2014) demonstrating the value of the library &  information services in clinical care.

The first study, conducted in the Rochester, NY area, demonstrated that the Medline searches requested by physicians and residents (sample size of 448) had substantial influences on clinical decision making and patient care outcomes.  The top three aspects of care impacted by this service were advice given to the patient (72%), choice of tests (51%), and choice of drugs (45%). The information provided by the library was also rated more highly than other information sources (e.g. diagnostic imaging, lab tests, and discussions with colleagues).

The second study used a critical incident survey of 6,788 nurses at 118 hospitals. Nursing practice was positively impacted by using the service. The nurses reported consistent improvements in changing the advice given to patients, handling patient care differently, avoiding adverse events, and saving time.

  • Marshall JG. The impact of the hospital library on clinical decision making: the Rochester study. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. 1992 Apr;80(2):169.
  • Marshall J, Morgan J, Klem M, Thompson C, Wells A. The value of library and information services in nursing and patient care. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. 2014 Aug;19(3).

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