Nutrition Support Blog: Let’s Go to the Pub (Med)
February 6, 2014
The name PubMed sounds a bit better than it actually is, because to me, the name Pub Med sounds like it should be a slightly out of place, quaint Irish watering hole on the Mediterranean coast of France. (Apparently, not a completely implausible concept: http://www.yelp.com/biz/o-bradys-irish-pub-marseille). Of course, PubMed is really a free database on life sciences and biomedical topics – the search engine to the data we need to help nourish sick people as best as we can.
While using the PubMed database may not sound as fun as being in a pub on the Mediterranean, it has its merits. Those of us who grew up using Index Medicus to find citations, then venturing down into the dim lower reaches of the library to pore over blurry microfilm and microfiche, fully understand the ineffable joy that comes from being able to pull up the full text of research from the comfort of our office or home. Ahead of print, without even being separated from my coffee! Technology is so wonderful,…when it works.
One aspect of medical and nutrition support data that has not changed is that finding and reading the research is just the first step. The most crucial part of understanding and correctly utilizing research is a critical evaluation to fully appreciate the strengths and limitations of the research. However, many nutrition support professionals have shared with me, that they just do not feel competent with their evidence analysis skills. Even today, most nutrition and dietetic programs do not give adequate classroom education on the practical kind of evidence evaluation information needed by clinicians (and if you knew what microfiche is, chances are you received even less time on this).
I have mentioned critical appraisal of research in past blogs, but the reason I bring it up again is to bring attention to a new resource to help sharpen your data-fu skills (like kung-fu, but with research). Starting with the January 2014 issue, the Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition (JPEN) has a new series on critically reading the medical nutrition literature. Dr. Ron Koretz (among other things) is an expert in critical appraisal of medical literature, with an entire career of experience. I am grateful that Dr. Koretz is being so generous to take the time to pass on what he has learned. I enthusiastically recommend that you read the entire JPEN series (see links below to the first 2 articles).
I will also include the link to our past blog on the topic of journal clubs.
I have been fortunate to have heard Dr. Koretz speak a number of times, read many of his articles and letters to the editor, as well as having him explain in person some of the more difficult (for me) research concepts. I feel that my ability to evaluate new research has made me a stronger clinician, with a much better idea when to put new research into practice. I do have to admit, that after browsing through pictures of some delightful establishments in southern France, that I am feeling that I am a bit behind in researching the Mediterranean diet. Now, I just need to convince my director that I need a clinical rotation in Marseille, preferably at a water front facility...
“My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.”
- P. J. Plauger