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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23487. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023487. Epub 2011 Aug 12.

To compare PubMed Clinical Queries and UpToDate in teaching information mastery to clinical residents: a crossover randomized controlled trial.

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Center for Educational Research in Medical Sciences, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



To compare PubMed Clinical Queries and UpToDate regarding the amount and speed of information retrieval and users' satisfaction.


A cross-over randomized trial was conducted in February 2009 in Tehran University of Medical Sciences that included 44 year-one or two residents who participated in an information mastery workshop. A one-hour lecture on the principles of information mastery was organized followed by self learning slide shows before using each database. Subsequently, participants were randomly assigned to answer 2 clinical scenarios using either UpToDate or PubMed Clinical Queries then crossed to use the other database to answer 2 different clinical scenarios. The proportion of relevantly answered clinical scenarios, time to answer retrieval, and users' satisfaction were measured in each database.


Based on intention-to-treat analysis, participants retrieved the answer of 67 (76%) questions using UpToDate and 38 (43%) questions using PubMed Clinical Queries (P<0.001). The median time to answer retrieval was 17 min (95% CI: 16 to 18) using UpToDate compared to 29 min (95% CI: 26 to 32) using PubMed Clinical Queries (P<0.001). The satisfaction with the accuracy of retrieved answers, interaction with UpToDate and also overall satisfaction were higher among UpToDate users compared to PubMed Clinical Queries users (P<0.001).


For first time users, using UpToDate compared to Pubmed Clinical Queries can lead to not only a higher proportion of relevant answer retrieval within a shorter time, but also a higher users' satisfaction. So, addition of tutoring pre-appraised sources such as UpToDate to the information mastery curricula seems to be highly efficient.

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