Monday, March 31, 2008


21,092 to go.....


A particularly slow weekend has got me nervous. But, as of now we have been searched 971,444 times this month. Therefore, we have just over 17 hours to be searched 28,556 times.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Two days to one million?

Well, two days to go and things are looking good.

As of yesterday we had been searched 942,964 times. So, for the last two days of the month we need to be searched 57,036 times.

I think we might just make it...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Review in EB Dentistry

"Their TRIP database is a very useful resource for the practitioner and one which should be included as one of your favourite sites or bookmarks."

Click here for the full review.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Something for the weekend!

In my struggle to understand web 3.0/semantic web I've been exchanging a fair few e-mails with people, notably Dean at the Google Scholar Blog. I feel as though I'm starting to understand the key concepts - but I still need to get a bit more guidance before I try and explain it here. But linked into this is a great post Semantic Web Patterns: A Guide to Semantic Technologies on the ReadWriteWeb blog.

Two other interesting finds:

  • Free meta-analysis software, MIX - Meta-analysis with Interactive eXplanations. Alas, my version of Excel (2007) is not compatible with the programme, so I can't check it out. For those 'lucky' enough to have an earlier version of Excel - I hope you enjoy it. You can read more about the software via this BioMedCentral article.
  • Searchme. I manged to get an invite to be a beta-tester. I love it! I'm not sure how helpful it would be in the clinical world. But it does allow you - very quickly - to scan the search results. I've embedded a demo below.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A million in March?

This may be a bore for others, but I had hoped to break the 1 million searches per month by the end of 2008. Well, it might happen much sooner.

As of the end of the 24th March we had been searched 769,334 times per month, so 230,666 searches off the 1 million, with a week to go. That averages 32,952 searches per day. We're beating that for weekdays, but dipping under it for weekends.

One thing I do predict is that I'll be the only tense watcher of these statistics!

If we don't do it in March we'll do it pretty soon as two new guarenteed projects should deliver significant new traffic while a 3rd (in negotiation) will add even more.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Vitamin D

I'm finding my interest in Vitamin D is increasing by the day! My interested started with an exchange of e-mails after answering some questions on vitamin D. The feedback we got was, basically, we didn't understand the subject. However, we're not alone, it appears lots of other sources make numerous assumptions about vitamin D.

I'm so keen to understand it that I've added a page on it in the TRIP wiki (click here). The page is very much a first draft and I expect it to increase significantly once I've read and digested the contents.

The case against ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) as a vitamin supplement seems a particularly good introduction to some of the issues.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

TRIP and the NLH Q&A Service

It appears that TRIP will shortly have no role in the NLH Q&A Service, I received a letter (about 3 weeks ago) telling me that the service would not be reprocured in its current format.

Irrespective of TRIP’s involvement I just hope they manage to create a system that satisfies the numerous current users of the service and at the same time expands capacity.

However, this is certainly not the end of TRIP’s involvement in Q&A, in the short-medium term are plans are as follows:
  1. We are currently negotiating a new Q&A contract with another national health service. This should go live by the autumn, I’m hoping to complete negotiations in the near future.
  2. A major new Q&A project will launch around summertime. I think this will have a significant impact on Q&A and will eventually overtake TRIP in usage (for reference we should get around 1 million searches this month and over 6 million page views). We’ve started work on this and the design work has got me so excited!
  3. I’m still toying with the idea of a Q&A journal.

As one door closes, another opens

Long-Term Patterns of Online Evidence Retrieval Use in General Practice

Long-Term Patterns of Online Evidence Retrieval Use in General Practice has just been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Conclusion: GPs will use an online evidence retrieval system in routine practice; however, usage rates drop significantly after initial introduction of the system. Long-term studies are required to determine the extent to which GPs will integrate the use of such technologies into their everyday clinical practice and how this will affect the satisfaction and health outcomes of their patients

Hardly a huge surprise. But I think the whole study is limited as the average number of searches per month was 0.7! I think the authors discussion lacked imagination. They didn't consider that the search wasn't producing the results, so the docs got tired of asking the question and getting nothing back.

They quote Ely in their paper and I think it was Ely who highlighted that doctors tend to seek information when they think they'll get an answer.

For those who have missed in Dean Giustini has an interesting paper on web 3.0. It's a term I don't particularly like but perhaps that's because I don't understand it properly. Anyway, the paper is Web 3.0 and health librarians: an introduction.

Interestingly I've been approached by a Prof of information retrieval whose supervising a student looking at clinical Q&A. As part of the discussion we started talking about the semantic web (which appears pretty much a synonym of web 3.0). She explained it like this...

In the 'conventional web you would probably use the same search terms for both these questions:

  1. Does asthma lead to obesity
  2. Does obesity lead to asthma

For me I'd start with asthma obesity and see what came up. They'd be some papers discussing obese people's risk of asthma, they'd be others discussing the risk asthmatics have of becoming obese and I imagine they'd be a load of reviews discussing chronic diseases which discuss them both.

In the semantic web they would be an 'understanding' of the relationship between the search terms/concepts and the way these terms are then represented in documents.

Anyway, that's pretty much the sum of my knowledge. As it looks like we'll not be involved in Q&A for the NLH for much longer I think I'll have lots of time to explore this concept...

Monday, March 17, 2008


I saw a post about a new version on PBwiki and thought I'd try it out. So what have I put on there, various bits and bobs I've found interesting and useful over the years of answering clinical questions. So far there are not many pages and it'll no doubt grow. This is not meant to be any significant new resource from TRIP, its just there as it'll be useful to me and potentially for others.

To view the TRIPwiki click here.

Oh yes, you may get some screen suggesting an upgrade, this can be ignored by clicking on the link 'take me to the wiki' in the bottom right-hand corner.

Friday, March 14, 2008

TRIP on YouTube

As a new feature (to be rolled out shortly) we've produced a video of TRIP. It's a quick run through the main features of TRIP, so new users can quickly get a feel of what we're about.

We've placed it on YouTube, (as well as embedding it below) as you'll see the quality is lousy - the resolution is too low. When we launch the video on TRIP it'll be much higher in quality.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

American Family Physician (update)

We added AFP to TRIP around ten days ago and it's already (for me) proved a useful addition.

So what news greeted me ten minutes ago - restricted access (see below)! It's not as draconian as it could be (only most recent 12 months will be restricted) but it's a step back....

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has announced that beginning in April 2008, it will restrict online access to new issues of its journals, American Family Physician and Family Practice Management, to AAFP members and paid subscribers.

New journal articles will be restricted for a period of 12 months, after which time they will be available on the “public side” of and, where 90% of the journals’ content will continue to reside. Previously, 100% of AFP and FPM content has been available online without a subscription.

Search Me

TechCrunch highlights SearchMe. I like this! I'm not sure how useful it'd be for clinical search, but I still like it!!!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

TRIP speed

Around two weeks ago I blogged about TRIP being slow!

Today, I had a very good meeting with our web-team and we've located a key problem and highlighted a solution....

When someone does a search of TRIP it doesn't just do one search it, in effect, does a search for each category (systematic reviews, EB synopses etc) - so that's 9 searches! Last month we were searched 853,959 times, so the poor processors had to carry out 7,685,631 searches.

So the solution we're going to work with is something called a rolling cache. This will cache a load of search results on a rolling 30 day basis. So, on day one, someone will search on asthma, we will do all 9 searches on that day (one for systematic reviews, one for EB synopses etc) but then those results will be stored in a cache. The next time someone searches on asthma we'll take the results, not from carrying out the 9 searches, but from the cache. Bottom line we should see a significant improvement in speed...

Just as well as the rest of the meeting was discussing the 4 major projects that will be rolled out over the next year.

Mental Health discussion group

For interest, the NLH Mental Health Specialist Library has a google discussion group (click here).

Slightly embarrassing spelling mistake

I never suggest that I'm great at proof reading and the partial screenshot from the homepage proves this beyond doubt! Click on the picture to enlarge!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Depression - evidence and experience

The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, Oxford and TRIP are currently working on a joint project looking at the relationship between evidence and experience.

To start with we're looking for clinicians with experience of treating depression or patients who have ever suffered from depression to undertake a brief online survey.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A record month for TRIP

In February (a short month), the TRIP Database was searched 853,959 times. This beat our previous record (January 2008) by 131,242 searches. At the end of last year I predicted (optimistically) that we would reach one million searches per month by the end of 2008. If the current trend continues we should reach that easily (see the pretty graph below for trend data stretching back over 18 months).

TRIP is currently working on 4 major new projects, these will all impact on TRIP's usage. Some will have major effects and some minor ones. One things for sure, I think we'll need to invest in some new hardware!