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J Med Libr Assoc. Oct 2008; 96(4): 299–309.
PMCID: PMC2568834

The effect of training on question formulation among public health practitioners: results from a randomized controlled trial

Jonathan D. Eldredge, MLS PhD AHIP,corresponding author Richard Carr, MLS AHIP, David Broudy, MPH PhD, and Ronald E. Voorhees, MD MPH

Abstract

Objective:

To improve understanding of the information-seeking behaviors of public health professionals, the authors conducted this randomized controlled trial involving sixty participants to determine whether library and informatics training, with an emphasis on PubMed searching skills, increased the frequency and sophistication of participants' practice-related questions.

Methods:

The intervention group (n = 34) received evidence-based public health library and informatics training first, whereas the control group (n = 26) received identical training two weeks later. The frequency and sophistication of the questions generated by both intervention and control groups during the interim two-week period served as the basis for comparison.

Results:

The intervention group reported an average of almost 1.8 times more questions than those reported by the control group (1.24 vs. 0.69 questions per participant); however, this difference did not reach statistical significance. The intervention group overall produced more sophisticated (foreground) questions than the control group (18 vs. 9); however, this difference also did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusion:

The training provided in the current study seemed to prompt public health practitioners to identify and articulate questions more often. Training appears to create the necessary precondition for increased information-seeking behavior among public health professionals.


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