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Saskatchewan residents’ use of The Cochrane Library

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  • The Cochrane Library is a source of reliable information on the effects of healthcare interventions for health care practitioners and consumers. In July 2004, Saskatchewan became the first province in Canada to provide all residents with access to The Cochrane Library. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of The Cochrane Library. Training sessions were offered to promote the use of The Cochrane Library. Attendees were informed of the evaluation study and invited to participate. Those who consented to participate were telephoned and audio-taped interviews were conducted at three (n=94), six (n=71), nine (n=79), and 12 months (n=72) following the sessions. Usage of The Cochrane Library was also tracked using data available from Wiley-Blackwell. Most participants were librarians (n=31.5%), between 40 to 65 years of age (71.6%) and female (92.4%). Data from Wiley-Blackwell revealed that from October 2004 to September 2007, the component of The Cochrane Library most frequently accessed was The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (abstracts=26,016; full texts =15,934). Telephone interviews with participants revealed that the majority (65.2%) used The Cochrane Library at the three month interview, however this proportion fell to 27.4% at the twelve month interview even though most (83.6%-88.2%) reported that The Cochrane Library was somewhat to very helpful. Most respondents claimed to have learned something from The Cochrane Library; others reported that the knowledge gained helped in their decision-making or confirmed their beliefs. Respondents accessed The Cochrane Library in response to patron requests for information on a variety of health care topics. Information was used to support changes in health care practice and policy and for the preparation of educational papers and presentations. The reported reasons for not using The Cochrane Library were lack of time, limited access to an internet ready computer in the work setting, reliance on dial-up internet in some rural areas, forgetting how to find and navigate the website, and being disappointed with information available. The plain language summaries were well received, however, some reported that the sophisticated language and length of the reviews were more appropriate for researchers and healthcare providers than the general public. This study provides evidence that given the opportunity and appropriate training, people other than medical professionals will also make use of The Cochrane Library.

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    Article (Published)
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    This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. This Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada license lets others copy, distribute, display, and perform the work; to make derivative works; and to make commercial use of the work. The original author(s) and source must be cited. This license can be seen at
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    • Forbes, D.A., Neilson, C., Bangma, J., Forbes, J., Fuller, D., & Funiss, S. (2007). Saskatchewan residents’ use of The Cochrane Library. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 2(2), 1-12.