McMaster PLUS: A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial of an Intervention to Accelerate Clinical Use of Evidence-based Information from Digital Libraries
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BACKGROUND: Physicians have difficulty keeping up with new evidence from medical research. METHODS: We developed the McMaster Premium LiteratUre Service (PLUS), an internet-based addition to an existing digital library, which delivered quality- and relevance-rated medical literature to physicians, matched to their clinical disciplines. We evaluated PLUS in a cluster-randomized trial of 203 participating physicians in Northern Ontario, comparing a Full-Serve version (that included alerts to new articles and a cumulative database of alerts) with a Self-Serve version (that included a passive guide to evidence-based literature). Utilization of the service was the primary trial end-point. RESULTS: Mean logins to the library rose by 0.77 logins/month/user (95% CI 0.43, 1.11) in the Full-Serve group compared with the Self-Serve group. The proportion of Full-Serve participants who utilized the service during each month of the study period showed a sustained increase during the intervention period, with a relative increase of 57% (95% CI 12, 123) compared with the Self-Serve group. There were no differences in these proportions during the baseline period, and following the crossover of the Self-Serve group to Full-Serve, the Self-Serve group's usage became indistinguishable from that of the Full-Serve group (relative difference 4.4 (95% CI -23.7, 43.0). Also during the intervention and crossover periods, measures of self-reported usefulness did not show a difference between the 2 groups. CONCLUSION: A quality- and relevance-rated online literature service increased the utilization of evidence-based information from a digital library by practicing physicians.
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