Searching in a Comparative Effectiveness Research Way

I know you have been thinking and searching in an evidence based way, but have you switched to thinking in a broader comparative effectiveness way? The mantra for EBP is “based on the evidence available to me today, I will practice.” The mantra for CER starts there and pays attention to real life settings and can have different sizes to the populations. So, for CER, the mantra chatted is, “what works best for what populations in real world settings.” EPB and CER involve experiences of the health care provider, what the literature shows and the preferences of the patient.

There are 4 main ways to search for CER information, PubMed Health, PubMed Topic Specific Queries-Comparative Effectiveness Research, ANDing effectiveness[sb] to your strategy, or just ANDing the phrase “comparative effectiveness“ to your search strategy.

PubMed Health searches in an clinical effectiveness way. It is geared for the lay public. It has topic reviews, systematic reviews, guidelines and a drug database. When you search PubMed Health, you are searching PubMed at the same time. Be more general in your search topic. It is not a huge database.

Get to PubMed Topic Specific Queries-Comparative Effectiveness Research from the PubMed front page or Put your topic in the search box and click on All for CER results. Notice also you can select a type of study, health disparities, costs and cost analysis or CER as topic.

ANDing effectiveness[sb] to your search strategy is the same as clicking on the Topic Specific Queries-CER page.

Remember you want to search PubMed with words, phrases and MeSH to retrieve all the citations, including inprocess, supplied by publisher or PubMed Central papers. So the phrase “comparative effectiveness” will bring citations for all of PubMed, including the MeSH term, comparative effectiveness research.

Try out any of these methods and send in your comments and questions.

Helen-Ann Brown Epstein

Catch the Leiter Lecture Live Online Thursday

The Joseph Leiter NLM/MLA Lecture will be on Thursday June 12, 2014 at 1:00pm ET online and on the campus of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Terrence Sejnowski, PhD, will discuss “The BRAIN Initiative: Connecting the Dots.”
Dr. Sejnowski is a pioneer in computational neuroscience and his goal is to understand the principles that link brain to behavior. He is interested in the hippocampus, believed to play a major role in learning and memory; and the cerebral cortex, which holds our knowledge of the world and how to interact with it. His laboratory uses both experimental and modeling techniques to study the biophysical properties of synapses and neurons and the population dynamics of large networks of neurons. New computational models and new analytical tools have been developed to understand how the brain represents the world and how new representations are formed through learning algorithms for changing the synaptic strengths of connections between neurons. By studying how the resulting computer simulations can perform operations that resemble the activities of the hippocampus, Dr. Sejnowski hopes to gain new knowledge of how the human brain is capable of learning and storing memories. This knowledge ultimately may provide medical specialists with critical clues to combating Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that rob people of the critical ability to remember faces, names, places and events.
(from NIH website)

If you are in or nearby Bethesda, I highly recommend going because it is always interesting to hear the lecturer speak in person. But if you are in Cleveland or some other place that makes it impossible for you to physically be at the lecture, then you can watch it online. If for some reason you can’t watch it live then don’t worry the lecture will be recorded and available at

What is PubModel?

Ok I tried to read the NLM Tech Bull, New PubModel for PubMed Citations, but it was so packed full of jargon that my brain started to hurt.  I read it through several times then asked our cataloger what she understood of it.

This is what I was able to piece together. It is for online only journals and they will have two dates, the eCollection and the published date.  The eCollection date refers to when the article was deposited in PMC.

I have several thoughts…none of them pleasant.

First, it is pretty bad when the technical bulletin is confusing to the very readers it aims to inform.  I am not the only one who thinks it was confusing. Check out these responses to my quick question on Twitter.


Second, isn’t the term Electronic eCollection kind of redundant?

Finally, Does this solve the epub ahead of print mess or just add to the confusion?  To me it seems to add to the confusion. Not only do we have 2 different possible “publication” dates but their example article “was published online on January 25, 2013, yet was included in the Volume 3, 2012 collection as deposited in PMC.” Does anybody find that absolutely confusing?!  What is the correct citation for authors to use?! When was it really published?  Why is PMC not listing it when it was actually published by the journal on January 25, 2013!? 

How can I explain this to doctors when I can’t understand it and why it is being done? Please somebody comment because I befuddled.



If you are going to the annual meeting in Seattle you will want to check out the NLM exhibit booth to not only meet staff but also to see the demos and tutorials featured at NLM Theater at the booth.  NLM will also several meetings such as the NLM Online Users’ Meeting “Sunrise Seminar,” NLM Update, and the Docline Users Group Meeting. 

For more information including CE classes at MLA and the NLM Theater Schedule go to:

NLM on YouTube

The National Library of Medicine has launched its YouTube channel at  The channel will allows unregistered users to watch videos and registered users to post videos of lectures, training, special events NLM exhibitions, public service announcements, and more. 

If your hospital doesn’t block YouTube you can subscribe to be notified whenever new content is posted. 

Ok I have a stupid question for somebody who knows more than I do in IT.  Many insitutions block YouTube but allow streaming of educational, medical, or work related videos on educational or medical sites (basically not YouTube sites).  Is it possible to block YouTube in general but to allow access to specfic channels, like the NLM channel, on YouTube? 

As a hospital librarian who is asked to look for videos of surgical procedures, techniques, exercises, etc. I have to say A LOT of good stuff is posted on YouTube by college medical centers.  But because it is on YouTube I can’t see it.  I can only do the search and then tell the person how I did the search to retrieve the results so that they can view the videos at home (or on a 3G device that has wifi disabled).  I realize there is a lot of junk on YouTube…but there is a lot of good stuff like the NLM and NIH channel.  So is there any way to block general YouTube but allow a channel? Just curious.

Friday Fun: About the NLM

Did you know that the National Library of Medicine responds to more than 100,000 questions each year and many more questions are self answered as users search the NLM site including the FAQs. 

Some things that can be answered by NLM’s FAQs:

Other things you probably didn’t know about NLM:

  • More than 1,000 people work at NLM
  • NLM was one of the first institutions to use HDTV for biomedical imaging (started in 1994)
  • NLM has developed two missing persons Web and mobile application

For more fun tid bits that you can share with your friends on Friday and store in your mind to whip out during trivia night go to NLM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and NLM Factoids: Did you know that NLM…?.


MEDLINE End of Year Processing Information

NLM is involved in MEDLINE year-end processing activities which include changing MeSH, Substance Names and other global changes.  This always causes a temporary suspension in indexing citations. 

So here are some important dates to note:

  • November 16, 2011: NLM expects to temporarily suspend the addition of fully-indexed MEDLINE citations to PubMed. Publisher-supplied and in process citations will continue to be added.
  • Mid-December 2011: PubMed MEDLINE citations, translation tables, and the MeSH database will have been updated to reflect 2012 MeSH.

For details about the impact on searching from November 16 to mid-December, see: Annual MEDLINE/PubMed Year-End Processing (YEP): Impact on Searching During Fall 2011.

For background information on the general kinds of changes made annually, see: Annual MEDLINE/PubMed Year-End Processing (YEP): Background Information.

MedlinePlus Connect Recording Available

Were you too busy to catch the free webcast about MedlinePlus Connect and linking them within the EMR?  Well you are in luck, the webcast is now available online for free at

MedlinePlus Connect is a free service from the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services.  It allows hospitals and other health organizations to link patient portals and EMR systems to MedlinePlus. 

To find out more about MedlinePlus Connect go to

MedlinePlus Connect Webcast: Linking Patient Portals & EHRs to Consumer Health Information

Mark your calendars, carve out a bit of time on Wednesday July 27 at 2:00pm (EST) to attend the UMLS Webcast on MedlinePlus Connect: Linking Patient Portals and EHRs to Consumer Health Information. 

“MedlinePlus Connect allws patient portals, EHRs and other health IT systems to link to relevant and authorative consumer health information from”  The webcast will give an overview of MedlinePlus Connect, how to implement it, and explain NLM’s behind the scenes support. 

Webcast Information:
When: Tuesday July 27, 2011  2:00pm US Eastern Time
What you need to participate:
Adobe FlashT enabled web browser
Speakers or headphones (audio will be broadcast over the internet)
Captioning will be provided for this Webcast

If you are on vacation, busy, or just plain forget, the webcast will be recorded and made available at: