Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


September 2006

A little experiment

Just a trial of some new software my web-people (Sequence) have developed, to make site creation easy. They asked me to try it out so I thought I’d have a go at creating some new mini-sites for TRIP. I’ve created six sites and added google ads – not sure what, if anything, will happen with these:

Cognitive behaviour therapy
Smoking cessation

The software Sequence have developed was certainly easy to use. Even though I only created a batch of one page sites I’ve started more complicated multi-page sites and that seems equally straightforward.

More feedback

Two particularly nice bits of feedback today:

1) The publicity about the free availability of the TRIP database is an opportunity for us to say how much we have valued the database as an essential tool for our enquiry work.

We have subscribed to it since it changed to a subscription basis but we are delighted that it has reverted to free access. This also makes it easier to publicise and promote to our enquirers.

2) Just a note to let you all know that I really appreciate the great work that you have done with TRIP Database. As a health professional, I have used TRIP to help a lot of patients…..Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help TRIP remain such a great resource or to help TRIP continue to develop.

Improved search

When Paul Glasziou evaluated the TRIP Database around 12 months ago he reported that of all the searches 50% resulted in a user following any of the links on the site. Another, pessimistic, way of looking at this is that 50% of users found nothing of interest. So, potentially, a poor result but one that reflects the lack of high quality evidence for all clinical scenarios.

However, an anlysis of the first 10 days of searching using the new interface has shown a dramatic improvement in ‘link outs’. It has now increased to 73%. One could almost say that the move to the new search algorithm has resulted in a 50% improvement in the search experience.

Pubmed Wizard

I like this site (click here).

I’ve wanted to introduce similar features to TRIP, such as comments, rank etc.

E-Health Insider

Yesterday I did a brief interview for the above publication. One obvious mistake is them mis-spelling my name – such is life. Still, nice they’ve taken notice. You can read the article here.

A few interesting links….

Drug Bank

Question-Answering for Biomedicine: Methods and State of the Art

Being Erlang Shen: Identifying Answerable Questions

Top of the heap

An article from last week’s Guardian – Top of the heap.

A very interesting look at user preferences for search results. Apparently, on Google the top result gets 42% of the clickthroughs while the second result gets 11%. As the article points out the top two results account for over half the click throughs. The article proceeds to expand on this phenomenon.

Is this replicated in TRIP? I have no idea and no mechanism, as yet to measure it. I would like to think our users are more ‘discerning’. However, it does emphasise the need to continually improve on our search algorithm. Getting the best results at the top. We do a pretty good job but I would not say perfect, so there is still work to do.

When I worked, on a daily basis with GPs (family physicians) one particularly cynical one told me that if he searched he’d pick the first article that supported his hunch. Since hearing that (probably 8+ years ago) I have come to appreciate the problems faced by clinicians searching for clinical literature. They generally haven’t got time to do a full literature search, they haven’t time to appraise etc. This theme “please no more training on searching and appraising, just answer our questions for us” is still as strong today as it was when ATTRACT started. However, it also reinforces that if s/he does search then they need the ‘good stuff’ at the top.

How one defines the ‘good stuff’ needs considering another day.

Steve Irwin

Steve’s tragic death (click here for more details) has had a dramtic impact on our search records. For the first four and a half days of September the article most visited from TRIP, by a factor of 400%, is the eMedicine article on Stingray Envenomations


Yesterday we added the links to 2880 articles in ganfyd. Ganfyd is a collaborative medical reference by medical professionals and invited non-medical experts. As the site says: was set up to act as a free repository for the vast amount of knowledge that doctors carry around in their heads, both of a factual nature (for example, the causes of Infective endocarditis) and of a practical nature (how to take blood from somebody with difficult veins, or how to deal with an abusive patient, or even how to ensure you don’t become dehydrated on your first day as a doctor).

All contributors are volunteers and come from either the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand. As with any wiki ganfyd is ‘work in progress’.

It may not meet the strict definition of being ‘evidence based’. However, the value of ganfyd cannot be stated highly enough. Clinical knowledge has an immense value and much of what is written is owned, and controlled, by people/organisations whose first interest is frequently not patient care.

By including ganfyd records in TRIP we hope that there will be a mutual benefit. We will get good content and ganfyd will get increased exposure and therefore volunteers, making the resource even better. If you read a ganfyd article and think it can be improved – make the effort!

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