Clinical Support

Paper: Research Abstract

Factors Affecting Clinical Referrals to the Medical Library

Monday, May 6
2:50 PM - 3:05 PM
Room: Columbus AB (East Tower, Ballroom/Gold Level)

Objectives : The objective of this study is to understand why and when clinical care teams refer patients to the medical library. It provides information about how clinical care teams currently utilize and recommend medical libraries as a patient resource.
Methods : A census of clinical care teams at a research hospital was taken from October to December 2018. The census population was 482; 95 responses were collected. We administered an anonymous online survey using REDCap, featuring multi-choice questions and Likert-type scales to measure awareness of library services available to patients, facilitators and barriers to referral, and likelihood of future referral. Demographic variables included gender, age, professional role, and years employed at the hospital. Spearman correlations were used to determine the strength of relationships between familiarity with the services and how often respondents referred those services (rs). Referral rate distributions were compared between job type groups using the Kruskal-Wallis test.
Results : Overall, self-reported referral rates were low. There was a marginally significant relationship between referral rate and job type, with providers having lower referral rates (p=0.01). There was a positive correlation between familiarity with the services and service referral frequency (rs=0.78 for combined data) and between current referral rates and likelihood of future referral (rs=0.43 for combined data). Among respondents who had never referred patients, top reasons were “Not aware library offered has service” and “Don’t know how to make a referral to library;” least selected reasons were “Clinic wants to control information to patient” and “Concerned about quality of information provide by library.” Top referral reasons were “Complements or enhances the patient’s access to health information” and “Adds value to the patient’s visit.”
Conclusions : The results suggest there is evidence that lack of knowledge, rather than lack of interest and support, results in lower clinic referrals to the library. The correlation between knowledge of services and likelihood of referral demonstrates that when providers are aware of the library, they are referring patients. Similarly, those currently referring are likely to make future referrals, suggesting that the library services are considered valuable. The qualitative responses show agreement, linking the lack of referrals to marketing and procedural insufficiencies (rather than distrust or dislike of the services), which indicates potential for increasing referrals by addressing these deficits. A streamlined patient referral system from clinic to library could be beneficial.

Liz Kellermeyer

Biomedical Research Librarian
National Jewish Health
Denver, Colorado


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Matthew Strand


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Factors Affecting Clinical Referrals to the Medical Library

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