Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate Getting research findings into practice

Finding information on clinical effectiveness

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 18 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:200
  1. Julie Glanville (, information service managera,
  2. Margaret Haines, principal adviserb,
  3. Ione Auston, librarianc
  1. aNHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, York Y01 5DD
  2. bLibrary and Information Commission, London W1V 4BH
  3. cNational Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology, National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Ms Glanville

    This is the third in a series of eight articles analysing the gap between research and practice

    Series editors: Andrew Haines and Anna Donald

    There is increasing pressure on healthcare professionals to ensure that their practice is based on evidence from good quality research, such as randomised controlled trials or, preferably, systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials and trials of other study designs. This pressure comes from various sources. The evidence based healthcare movement encourages a questioning and reflective approach to clinical practice and emphasises the importance of lifelong learning. Thus, good access to research based evidence is necessary. Many governments are encouraging the development of evidence based medicine because its advantages are understood, especially in terms of improved efficiency in the delivery of health care through the identification of effective treatments.12 There are also indications that legal decisions may take account of whether research evidence and clinical guidelines were adhered to.34 Better informed consumers may provide another incentive for clinicians to be more aware of research findings. Clinicians will need to be able to access information on clinical effectiveness in order to improve the quality of care and to stay well informed on developments in specialist areas. We examine the resources that are already available to clinicians, strategies for finding and filtering information, and ways of improving dissemination.

    • Information alone is often not sufficient to encourage changes in practice

    • A national dissemination strategy for important research messages combined with local support mechanisms may increase the uptake of changes in practice

    • All healthcare decision makers need to know how to filter research for quality and how to appraise evidence from research

    • Extensive information on clinical effectiveness is already available, and computer based systems are being developed that will present clinicians with evidence based information when they …

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