While researching a question on oral contraceptives and low BMI I came across a significant number of links to the FSRH clinical enquiries that were leading to ‘file not found’. Due to their set-up they delete files from their servers after about 3 years old. TRIP does not access the files dynamically so ‘dead’ links aren’t removed and people get poor results. Therefore, I’ve manually updated the records, removing 500 (around 30%) of the records.
The issue of longevity of Q&As is problematic and there are no obvious right answers. On TRIP Answers we leave all our answers on the web, but mark when the record is over two years old. We also allow users to comment if they feel something is out of date (or if new research appears) – and this will be further enhanced in the near future. Finally, we will be rolling-out a semi-automatic system to keep records up to date towards the end of the year.
I strongly believe that Q&As (arising from genuine clinical situations) are the most powerful form of evidence. They are nuggets of evidence that clinicians can directly apply to their practice. So, I hate to lose Q&As – they’re too useful. Be transparent, warn people when they’re ‘old’ and let the user always be sceptical.