Development of a new model to engage patients and clinicians in setting research priorities

From the article at  Journal of Health Services Research & Policy (J HEALTH SERV RES POLICY), 2014 Jan; 19 (1): 12-8. 

Plain English summary
There is some evidence that there is a mismatch between what patients and health professionals want to see researched and the research that is actually done. The James Lind Alliance (JLA) research Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs) were created to address this mismatch. Between 2007 and 2014, JLA partnerships of patients, carers and health professionals agreed on important treatment research questions (priorities) in a range of health conditions, such as Type 1 diabetes, eczema and stroke. We were interested in how much these JLA PSP priorities were similar to treatments undergoing evaluation and research over the same time span. We identified the treatments described in all the JLA PSP research priority lists and compared these to the treatments described in a group of research studies (randomly selected) registered publically. The priorities identified by JLA PSPs emphasised the importance of non-drug treatment research, compared to the research actually being done over the same time period, which mostly involved evaluations of drugs. These findings suggest that the research community should make greater efforts to address issues of importance to users of research, such as patients and healthcare professionals.

Read the entire article here


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The problem with P values: defining clinical vs. statistical significance [Reblog]

From the 24 June 2015 Public Library of Science (PLos) blog post



Today we warmly welcome guest writer Sean Sinden to PLOS Public Health Perspectives. His biography is at the end of the post.

The practice of null hypothesis testing has traditionally been used to interpret the results of studies in a wide variety of scientific fields. Briefly, significance testing involves the calculation of an outcome statistic, known as the P value. The P value represents the probability of finding a difference, by chance, between two sets of values larger than that which was observed, assuming no difference between the two sets of values. Conventionally, if that probability is less than 0.05 the outcome is deemed “statistically significant”. If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is!

P values are commonly misinterpreted and misused to answer research questions, but in actuality they fail to provide much information to the reader (1). This method of statistical analysis has been met with criticism throughout its history and increasingly so in the past few decades. The shortcomings of significance testing have been identified in both the academic and non-academic literature. I encourage anyone interested in the mechanistic limitations of significance testing to seek out such resources.

The P value doesn’t begin to explain the importance of a study’s outcome or the amount of the effect observed, though many researchers mistakenly believe it to.


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Independence Day Weekend Hours

Mulford’s hours for this weekend:

Friday, July 3 – closed for the holiday

Saturday, July 4 – 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Sunday, July 5 –  9:00 am – midnight (our normal hours)

Have a relaxing and safe holiday!

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Mulford Renovations Start Monday, June 22

This summer, the Mulford Library is undergoing renovations (and we’re not talking about the work on the Student Services area on the first floor!). Renovations to the library part of the Mulford Library Building will start on Monday, June 22, to start the construction part of renovations. Contractors expect a 6-week work period (though the end of July). New furniture will arrive later this summer or early fall.

Renovations are based on student recommendations and needs. They include:

  •  reconfiguring small group study space on the fifth floor, eliminating the central study area and making two of the side rooms larger. These rooms will get soundproofing, new furniture, new electrical, and whiteboards.
  • creating a new small group study space outside of room 417, by removing the two center stacks to make space for small tables; it will also get new carpeting and lighting to match the lounge outside of room 411.
  • adding electrical outlets, new furniture, and new lighting on the main stair landing between the third and fourth floors
  • adding electrical outlets to the sixth floor southwest, so that all study carrels in that area have electricity
  • addition of two standing desks on the fifth floor
  • replacing window treatments in 408
  • new furniture in room 520
  • new conference room in 517
  • replacement of soft seating
  • additional whiteboards in study rooms and study carrels

We apologized in advance for any disruptions due to noise and construction. Any questions can be directed to Jolene Miller,

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Reminder: OhioLINK services unavailable tonight through Saturday noon

All OhioLINK hosted services will be down starting tonight at 6:00 pm. Services should resume on Saturday, June 13 at noon. These services include:

  • OhioLINK website
  • Central Catalog
  • Electronic Journal Center
  • Electronic Book Center
  • Digital Resource Commons
  • Electronic Theses and Dissertations
  • Finding Aid Repository (for archives and other special collections)
  • OhioLINK proxy servers

We apologize for any inconvenience!

Why will these services be unavailable? All OH-TECH organizations – including OhioLINK – are moving to a new data center. The new location at the State of Ohio Computing Center will provide us with a near-Tier 4 data center that can deliver a higher grade of services and achieve greater efficiencies.

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OhioLINK Services Down on 6/12/15

All OhioLINK hosted services will be down on Friday, June 12, 6:00 pm through Saturday, June 13, 12:00 pm (noon), while OhioLINK moves to a new data center.  We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

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A sight for sore eyes: Visually training medical students to better identify melanomas [News release]

From the 27 May 2015 University of Alberta news release
UAlberta researchers hope by improving training methods for health professionals, patients will enjoy better health outcomes.  By Ross Neitz.

Each year, thousands of Canadians are given the news: they have skin cancer. It is the most common form of cancer in Canada and around the world, but if detected early, survival rates are extremely high. According to Liam Rourke, early detection doesn’t happen nearly as often as it could.“The difficulty is that people have a really hard time detecting skin cancer melanomas early,” says Rourke, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry’s Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. “One of the reasons is that it’s an exceptionally difficult task because the melanomas look exactly like freckles and moles and other common benign lesions that everybody has.“The ability to detect these things early is pivotal and so we wanted to look at how people are trained to detect these things.”Rourke is the lead author of a study in JAMA Dermatology that examines best practices in teaching medical students and health professionals how to detect, categorize and identify skin lesions. By conducting a meta-analysis other studies in the field, his team found that many traditional methods of teaching focus on what some would argue are the least important aspects of the job.“The conventional sense of how this should be taught is by giving people factual knowledge about skin and its normal and abnormal development. We were surprised to see that there was very little effort to stress the visual part of this task. There was very little organized and systematic effort to train people’s visual systems to discriminate between two things that look a lot alike,” says Rourke.The team of researchers concluded there’s much room for improvement in how health professionals are trained. Based on the results of the study, Rourke’s team is developing perceptual training modules they hope to test through further studies.According to Rourke, an initial pilot study has already been undertaken that has shown promising early results. In it, a small group of undergraduate students with no medical knowledge, training or vocabulary were given iPads containing a module showing different types of skin lesions. Over the course of about two hours the students were presented with several examples of melanomas and non-melanomas. At first the examples were labeled as such, followed by the pictures again being shown without labelling. The students were then asked to identify the examples correctly. As the students progressed through the module, the examples became more varied and complex.“We saw an enormous effect,” says Rourke. “Within the two to three hours of training they reached a level of expertise that was close to the level of a dermatology resident.”He adds, “The training translates well to other groups because it doesn’t rely on learning a lot of anatomy or physiology or biomedical knowledge about skin lesions. The task is simply to identify skin cancers and differentiate them from benign lesions.”


Related resources

  • Visual Dx
    The VisualDx decision support and reference tool for physicians includes 1,300+ diagnoses and 29,000+ medical images to aid diagnosis and therapeutic decisions.
  • Dynamed (Dermatological Disorders)


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Information Retrieval with Verbose Queries [News release]

From the 23 May 2015 Microsoft Research news release 

Recently, the focus of many novel search applications shifted from short keyword queries to verbose natural language queries. Examples include question answering systems and dialogue systems, voice search on mobile devices and entity search engines like Facebook’s Graph Search or Google’s Knowledge Graph. However the performance of textbook information retrieval techniques for such verbose queries is not as good as that for their shorter counterparts. Thus, effective handling of verbose queries has become a critical factor for adoption of information retrieval techniques in this new breed of search applications. Over the past decade, the information retrieval community has deeply explored the problem of transforming natural language verbose queries using operations like reduction, weighting, expansion, reformulation and segmentation into more effective structural representations. However, thus far, there was not a coherent and organized tutorial on this topic. In this tutorial, we aim to put together various research pieces of the puzzle, provide a comprehensive and structured overview of various proposed methods, and also list various application scenarios where effective verbose query processing can make a significant difference.

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The Social Progress Index: A holistic measure of progress

For 80 years GDP has been the gold standard for measuring a country’s economic progress, but limiting a country’s measure of growth and competitiveness to just economic indicators creates an incomplete picture.

For 80 years GDP has been the gold standard for measuring a country’s economic progress, but limiting a country’s measure of growth and competitiveness to just economic indicators creates an incomplete picture.

On 9 April, the 2015 Social Progress Index launched – it measures the social and environmental outcomes for 133 countries, covering 94% of the world’s population.

As a complement to economic measures such as GDP, the Social Progress Index provides a more holistic measure of country performance and helps to drive real and sustainable growth that is important for business and vital for building a prosperous society.

How did your country do?


Developed in 2013, Social Progress Imperative teamed with leading experts across sectors to develop the Social Progress Index. It uses key social and environmental indicators captured across three dimensions of social progress:

  • Basic human needs (such as water, nutrition, and shelter)
  • Foundations of wellbeing (such as health, sustainability, and access to communications)
  • Opportunity (such as political freedoms, tolerance, and access to higher education)

By highlighting the most pressing issues that prevent progress, the Social Progress Index acts as a focal point for convening and platform building – bringing together the right players from different sectors to identify innovative solutions.

It is a practical guide for directing resources toward issues that can unlock this growth. For business, it is a necessary tool in the 21st century—guiding investment, informing social responsibility strategies, and better understanding the impact and purpose of business in society beyond profit—all key in attracting and retaining today’s talent who increasingly want to work for purpose-driven businesses.

Insights from this analysis – and the actions they ignite – have the power to shift thinking for the better. Countries will be able to drive sustainable, and faster, growth through increased collaborations, more effective policies, and focused funding.



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OMICS Group Now Charging for Article Withdrawals [Reblog]

Yet another reason to check legitimacy of potential publishers for one’s articles. Check out the authors lists (here and here) for potential predatory journals and publishers.

Also check out the Mulford Library Guide – Services & Resources for Health Science Faculty(Publishing).

From the 28 May 2015 post at  Scholarly Open Access , OMICS Group Now Charging for Article Withdrawals

Withdrawal fee

Hyderabad, India-based OMICS Group has found a new and likely lucrative revenue source — charging authors to withdraw their submissions to the publisher’s many journals.

OMICS Group regularly sends out millions of spam emails to thousands of researchers. In its spam, it generally only mentions the particular journal title the spam email is soliciting for, avoiding mentioning the now stigmatized name of the publisher.

This strategy is — unfortunately — often successful, for researchers are busy and often lack time to check the publisher’s legitimacy. Moreover, OMICS Group has many journal titles that are very similar or close to the titles of reputable journals.

Here is a copy of a recent email from OMICS Group in response to a researcher requesting withdrawal:

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