Around 5 years ago TRIP only searched secondary review articles (systematic reviews, guidelines, CATs etc). This was fine, but our analysis found that this meant only around 20%. We decided then that TRIP should seek to answer clinical questions using the ‘highest’ quality research. In other words, if there was no secondary review then primary research or eTextbooks are better than nothing. Since then we’ve embraced this philosophy and we will continue to do so.

So what’s the problem?

In part the problem will be improved with our next planned improvement in the search algorithm. This will weed out much of the ‘noise’ within TRIP results.

However, you will still find poorer quality material (e.g. eTextbooks) mixed in with secondary reviews. I’m not actually sure that’s a problem but another approach might be to create a ‘quality slider’. What’s one of them? Well, it’s a facility that allows users to have a slider that allows them to choose what quality material they want to see. See the quality pyramid below:

A default could be set so that only the top 2 or 3 sections are searched. If an answer is found then fine. However, if not, the user can move the slider down to automatically include the lower down sections of ‘evidence’. This would make the selection of lower quality evidence explicit. An alternative would be to include everything in the main search (as happens now) and allow users to use the slider to exclude certain content.
One to ponder!