MAR Value Study Team Offers Update
The goal of the “Value of Library and Information Services in Patient Care” initiative is to develop and implement a research study to measure the value of the health sciences library, library services, and librarian on clinical decision making and patient care outcomes. From a discussion at a November 2006 meeting of the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) of the Middle Atlantic Region, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), emerged the issue of establishing the value of health sciences libraries to administrators in hospitals, academic health sciences centers and other organizations where librarians work.
In the RAC discussion the “Rochester study” [The impact of the hospital library on clinical decision making: the Rochester study. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1992 Apr; 80(2):169-78] was mentioned as an influential, highly-cited (109 times) piece of research that was now seriously out of date. The Regional Advisory Committee recommended moving forward with planning a new study based on the original Rochester study, but updated for the present day. [See: Measuring the value and impact of health sciences libraries: planning an update and replication of the Rochester Study. J Med Libr Assoc. 2009 Oct;97(4):308-12.]
The Value Study Planning Committee is comprised of members of NN/LM and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Julia Sollenberger, (principal investigator), Karen Brewer, Susan Cavanaugh, Kathel Dunn, Sharon Easterby-Gannett, Mary Lou Klem, Lynn Kasner Morgan, and Kate Oliver comprise the NN/LM members. We have developed a research plan in consultation with Joanne Marshall, now on the faculty of the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Information and Library Science, and one of the original authors of the Rochester study. The other UNC members are: Jennifer Craft Morgan, Susan Rathbun-Grubb and Cheryl Thompson. The plan is to reproduce the original study in the current environment, and to include as many hospitals as possible in the MAR region. The survey is to be administered by a private survey company and analyzed by the research group at UNC.
Funding for the entire study (just over $144,000) is coming from the MAR program, which is itself funded through the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM). However, in the spring of 2009 the National Library of Medicine alerted us to a potential problem — all surveys funded by government agencies (including NLM) must be approved by the US Office of Management and Budget, (OMB), and this process could delay the study by at least 12 months. The only time-saving solution seemed to be funding the survey itself (the programming and administration of the survey by an independent survey company) with non-NLM funds, which would alleviate the need to get OMB approval. The actual cost of conducting the survey is approximately $18,000.
Library Groups Save the Day
Through the generosity of twelve different regional and national library groups, financial support for conducting the survey was secured. By October, 2009, the following groups had agreed to contribute to this important initiative: the Hospital Library Section of the Medical Library Association, the NY/NJ Chapter of MLA, the Philadelphia Regional Chapter of MLA, the Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter of MLA and all eight of the New York State Reference and Research Library Resources Councils.
Where We Are Now
Due to the generous support of these groups, we are now at a point where the study will soon be implemented. The planning committee has completed survey development and a handbook for the study participants; the research plan is going through the UNC Institutional Review Board; and the survey will soon be pretested. We expect to implement a pilot in the spring of 2010; libraries in the MAR Region will be contacted soon as we begin to recruit pilot participants. The actual survey will begin in late summer. The research team is very busy, but excited to be so close to implementation. We are grateful for your show of support and look forward to sharing more progress updates. Please stay tuned!