Francesca’s pick: CHLA/ABSC 2014

As a member of the ASTED3s executive it’s my turn to highlight a couple of presentations from CHLA/ABSC 2014 that I’m still thinking about…

For very good reason, there has been much talk in the profession recently about evaluating our services and advocating for libraries and for information professionals in all the forms we take. 

Something we can all agree on, and it shows in the discussions, the publications, and the advocacy tools that are being developed and shared, is this: collecting good data is an essential part of proving value and of quality improvement. 

A new tool which does just that was presented during the poster sessions:

This tool is simple, elegant and especially relevant as it enables us to collect data that shows the direct relationship of our services on patient care. I plan on using it, and translating it into French for our bilingual users (with Jeff’s permission). Maybe if enough of us use it we can pool the data for a bigger sample size.

I would love someone to go a step further and develop a tool to collect data that shows the direct relationship between our services (or as I prefer to think of it: our role as members of the health care team) and patient outcomes (are Ashley and Jeff up to the challenge?? 🙂 

I have recently conducted an extensive search in this area as part of a research project I am involved with and have discovered that it is incredibly difficult to find evidence showing direct impact of library services on patient outcomes, partly because the concept of patient outcomes is not well indexed, but also because there is little evidence to find. Patient outcomes are hard to measure, and even more so in this context. 


A recent systematic review, also presented at the CHLA/ABSC conference, shows how little evidence there is regarding our direct impact on patient outcomes (« Two studies indicated patient length of stay was reduced when clinicians requested literature searches related to a patient’s case »):

The truth is, we can advocate all we want, but unless we have evidence, and that means hard data, to support our arguments, we will not get the recognition and support we need. 

Imagine what a different landscape it would be if we could present our admins with well designed RCTs demonstrating a positive impact of our expertise on patient outcomes, not just anecdotal, but grounded in evidence.

So, let’s figure out how to measure our impact and start collecting (and pooling) data! 



Francesca Frati, BFA, MLIS
Medical Librarian | Bibliothécaire médicale
Chair, Patient Education Network (PEN) | Présidente, Réseau pour l’éducation des patients (REP)

Health Sciences Library | Bibliothèque des sciences de la santé
Patient & Family Resource Centre | Centre de ressources pour les patients et leur famille


Jewish General Hospital | Hôpital général juif 



PS See Patrick Cossette’s previous blog post re: CHLA/ABSC focusing on information for patients here.