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Do e-mail alerts of new research increase knowledge translation? A "Nephrology Now" randomized control trial

Gemini V Tanna, Manish M Sood, Jeffrey Schiff, Daniel Schwartz, David M Naimark
Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 2011, 86 (1): 132-8

PURPOSE: As the volume of medical literature increases exponentially, maintaining current clinical practice is becoming more difficult. Multiple, Internet-based journal clubs and alert services have recently emerged. The purpose of this study is to determine whether the use of the e-mail alert service, Nephrology Now, increases knowledge translation regarding current nephrology literature.

METHOD: Nephrology Now is a nonprofit, monthly e-mail alert service that highlights clinically relevant articles in nephrology. In 2007-2008, the authors randomized 1,683 subscribers into two different groups receiving select intervention articles, and then they used an online survey to assess both groups on their familiarity with the articles and their acquisition of knowledge.

RESULTS: Of the randomized subscribers, 803 (47.7%) completed surveys, and the two groups had a similar number of responses (401 and 402, respectively). The authors noted no differences in baseline characteristics between the two groups. Familiarity increased as a result of the Nephrology Now alerts (0.23 ± 0.087 units on a familiarity scale; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.06-0.41; P = .007) especially in physicians (multivariate odds ratio 1.83; P = .0002). No detectable improvement in knowledge occurred (0.03 ± 0.083 units on a knowledge scale; 95% CI: -0.13 to 0.20; P = .687).

CONCLUSIONS: An e-mail alert service of new literature improved a component of knowledge translation--familiarity--but not knowledge acquisition in a large, randomized, international population.

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