Research Summary: Effects of librarian-provided services in healthcare settings: a systematic review by Matt Holland

This systematic review takes a broad view of the effects of library services provided in a healthcare setting.  The question addressed is  “What are the effects of Librarian-provided services in healthcare settings on outcomes relevant to patients, healthcare providers or researchers?”  The conclusions reflect positive outcomes for the effects of healthcare information professionals.  In summary they are:

  • “Librarian-provided services directed to participants in training programs (eg, students, residents) improve skills in searching the literature to facilitate the integration of research evidence into clinical decision-making.
  • Services provided to clinicians were shown to be effective in saving time for health professionals and providing relevant information for decision-making.
  • Two studies indicated patient length of stay was reduced when clinicians requested literature searches related to a patient’s case.” (Perrier et al. 2014)

It does highlight some challenges. The quality of the methodology used in the 25 studies (22 primary and 3 companion reports) included is described as moderate, with the suggestion that research needs to try harder to be rigorous.

The majority of studies focus on instruction by librarians (15), leaving open questions about the impact of the totality of library services. Also unanswered by the published literature is the impact of other services delivered to users, described by Perrier et al. (2014) as direct services to researchers and patients.

The past may not be as good a guide to the future as it was, especially in the UK. Changes in the organisation and funding of the National Health Service [NHS] are a driver for innovation in library services and their organisation. Research in this area is also needed.

Whatever the shortcomings of available studies, this is an excellent synthesis of the published evidence supporting the value of library services in health care.

One slight quibble, availability of this review would be helped greatly if authors could have taken the Open Access option available on JAMIA, although it’s not cheap at 1200 GBP!

Reference: Perrier L, et al., 2014. Effects of librarian-provided services in healthcare settings: a systematic review.  Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association,  Online First. Available from: [Accessed 01 July 2014].


Matt Holland, Librarian, NWAS NHS Trust
Mobile: 07747456736,

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