CITATION: J R Soc Med. 2018 Aug;111(8):292-301. doi: 10.1177/0141076818788819.
A brief history of clinical evidence updates and bibliographic databases.
Glasziou P(1), Aronson JK(2).

The paper is restricted-access but there is what appears to be an earlier version published in full on the Lind Library Initiative website. Well worth a read:

CITATION: Glasziou P, Aronson JK (2017). A brief history of clinical evidence updates and bibliographic databases JLL Bulletin: Commentaries on the history of treatment evaluation (

‘Introduction: For clinicians wanting to keep up to date, the proliferation of research is an impossible blessing. Medline, for example, adds over 1 million new records each year. Because of this tsunami of new information, it has been estimated, for example, that around 7 per cent of the clinical conclusions from systematic reviews change every year (Shojania et al. 2007). Without some systematic assistance, keeping abreast of this vast and scattered research literature is simply not feasible for clinicians. As the problem has grown, attempts at systematic assistance to cope with it have evolved in two ways: collected summaries of texts and bibliographic databases, now electronic…’

The final section refers to the BMJ’s Clinical Evidence: summaries of systematic reviews. ‘The NHS Executive asked the BMJ to explore the possibility of developing an evidence-based resource along the lines of the British National Formulary (Godlee et al. 1999). The idea was to provide a pocket-sized book containing concise and regularly updated summaries of the best available evidence about clinical interventions. The BMJ enlisted the help of the American College of Physicians and convened an international advisory board, held focus groups of clinicians, and talked to patient support groups. The first issue of the resulting publication, Clinical Evidence, which appeared in 1999, contained summaries dealing with the prevention and treatment of about 70 common conditions, each based on a thorough search and appraisal of the literature, good systematic reviews, and randomized controlled trials; the summaries were written by clinicians with skills in epidemiology and were extensively peer reviewed. The material is now available online (’

I would be very interested to learn whether HIFA members use BMJ Clinical Evidence, which is available free to institutions registered with HINARI. What are its strengths and limitations, especially in low-resource settings?

Best wishes, Neil

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