Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


December 2008

TRIP web services

For years TRIP has offered access to its web services. Unfortunately, I’ve never been particularly great at explaining what web services are. But I’ll try and give it another go!

Basically, web services allow a 3rd party website to send a search string to TRIP and instead of showing the results in TRIP show the results in the 3rd party website.

I’m really pleased that a relatively new site QuizMD has come up with a novel use of our webservices. Instead of me trying to poorly explain what’s happening just go and visit their page on postpartum hemorrhage. At the top of the page is their test and below that are related articles loaded from TRIP.

A rough explanation of what is happening is that when this page is loaded, QuizMD send a search string to TRIP via our web services (in this case postpartum hemorrhage). We then send the search results back to them in a special format (XML) and QuizMD reformats the results to match the look and feel of their site.

I think it’s a great example of our web services. So, if you’re interested in utilising this service just let me know.

Rare diseases

Rare diseases, by definition, only affect a small number of people.

There are lots of different rare diseases.

Overall, lots of people suffer from rare diseases.

However, the big problem is that – due to small numbers – each individual condition will have very little research carried out.

In the last week or so I’ve come across two resources that cover the area using two different approaches:

  • ‘Old style’ web 1.0 Orphanet that covers a lot of conditions and is encyclopedic in nature.
  • ‘New style’ web 2.0 RareShare that provides a framework for users, but the users are expected to give their perspective and share their experiences.

Both have merit – but surely more powerful combined?

Evidence Direct & TRIP Answers

I’ve had the pleasure of starting to add the Q&As from the Australian Evidence Direct service. Yesterday I added the following:

  • What is the evidence on psycho-social support for allogeneic adult bone marrow transplants?
  • What are the most effective treatments for impulsivity (personality disorder)?
  • What is the best practice (and/or guidance) on the treatment for patients suffering depression and schizophrenia?
  • What is the evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of cognitive and behaviour therapy for panic disorder?
  • What is the evidence for case management in mental health patients?
  • What is the evidence for perioperative management of patients with sleep apnoea?

The content out there (on Evidence Direct and other Q&As services) really is amazing.

Finishing the year on a high

I have a feeling this is not the last post of the year, but I’ve started to wind down and start reflecting on what needs to be done in 2009.

Given my close relationship with the NLH I have often used them to compare TRIP against. Over the years we have exchanged positions regarding usage but since we fixed the speed on TRIP I’m delighted to see us pull away. In the graph below (click on the graph for a clearer view) you’ll see I’ve added NICE as well (given that they are merging with the NLH in April 2009 to create NHS Evidence).

However, while I’m pleased we’re doing well, I acknowledge it’s all relative and the graph below shows us – pitfully small – in comparison with the BMJ!

So, for years I’ve been aiming at improving on the NLH’s position. Now we’ve done this I’m hoping for two things:

  1. NHS Evidence will bring some serious innovation into play to pressure us to innovate. In fact, the desire for innovation isn’t restricted to just NHS Evidence, I want to see serious innovation everywhere.
  2. We close the gap on the BMJ.

TRIP Answers

One wish we had in producing TRIP Answers was to encourage users to interact with the site and to tell us how to improve our answers. Already we’ve had a major input, on the question What is the best way of interpreting a 24-hour ecg result?, which had actually been answered in relation to 24-hr blood pressure measurement. A major mistake and now corrected.

Twitter and TRIP Answers

I follow a number of really interesting people on twitter (see my profile here). One post from AllergyNotes (who is also known as Ves Dimov of Clinical Cases and Images) related to the incidence and prevalence of sesame allergy. As this was a genuine Q I added it to TRIP Answers (click here to view).

I can see twitter being very useful in highlighting new content for TRIP Answers.

TRIP Answers now on TRIP Database

After a brief indexing problem the full content of TRIP Answers ( is now searchable via the main TRIP Database.


The clinical cases and images blog has published a quick review Twitter Wins Over RSS? which highlights some of the benefits of twitter.

Due to twitter I came across another post TripAnswers or Twitter?. It’s nice to see we’re being talked about and highlights the usefullness of twitter.

For interest my twitter address is

Be warned, twitter is an acquired taste, but once you get over the initial learning curve (not that steep) you may well be hooked. If you try, and get confused, just let me know and I’ll help you out.

Dilbert and Dr Google

A really interesting post at Search Engine Land (click here) about how Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, used Google to keep an eye on new information on a condition he appears to suffer from – Spasmodic Dysphonia.

A new piece of research gets published and the rather nice Google Alerts sends him and e-mail and Scott goes to his doctor.

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