Making the case

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Making the case for evidence-based patient information: evidence to support how NHS libraries can play a key role

On behalf of Health Education England and as part of a Senior Leadership Programme, a group of health library and knowledge specialists across England worked together on a shared project exploring how evidence is used in the creation and review of information for patients. The project titled, ‘Making the case: evidence-based patient information,’ explores the real need for patients and the public to have access to high quality, reliable health information. As individuals are being encouraged to self-manage and be partners in their care they need access to a range of resources tailored to their literacy level.

The aim of the project was to influence and advocate the importance of evidence for health information for patients, carers and the public in healthcare settings, as well as identifying key learning to support others in influencing the evidence base of patient leaflets in their local NHS settings.

As health librarians, we play a key role in providing evidence for patient care as part of our service to healthcare staff. We have skills in finding the evidence, appraising it and making it readily available in formats needed by our healthcare colleagues. The need for patient information to be evidence based is driven by a number of strategic priorities including patient experience, self-management, shared decision-making and health system sustainability.

The project focused on the production of patient leaflets within NHS Trusts, usually written by local clinical staff for specific conditions or procedures. We were looking at the current level of involvement by NHS LKS in the production and review of leaflets and the key stakeholders who play a role in this process.

Information was gathered from case studies of three NHS Trusts, through telephone interviews with NHS librarians delivering and supporting the production of patient information and a literature search on good quality patient information. The findings of the work are outlined in a report, along with other useful resources highlighting; the importance of LKS role in supporting evidence-based information, the key policy drivers, the emphasis on influencing key stakeholders and the challenges of clinical language.

The report makes a number of recommendations; including, making patient information a part of our ‘offer’ as a service forming part of LKS existing role as champions of evidence-based practice within their organisations. Key themes from the case studies and learning from networks were the significance of influencing skills and the importance of demonstrating the impact of this work and sharing best practice.

Resources Available:

There are other examples of best practice that are highlighted demonstrating the positive impact NHS libraries have experienced. It is another aspect of the work many NHS libraries are already engaged in as part of patient care.

If you have any queries about the project please contact a member of the project team:

Emily Hopkins, Health Education England
Deena Maggs, The King’s Fund​
Victoria Treadway, NHS RightCare​
Vicki Veness, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust​
Jacqui Watkeys, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
Suzanne Wilson, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust​

Updated 24 June 2019