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RTI Research Spotlight: Optimal Strategies for IPE Literature Searching

This work began from a known literature searching issue. Interprofessional education (IPE) is a growing area of research and one where terms have changed over time. It can be difficult to find all the relevant IPE literature. IPE studies involve two or more different professions (e.g. nursing and pharmacy) that collaborate together across disciplines. However, studies on specializations within one profession (e.g. emergency medicine and surgery) use the same terminology. Also, the Medical Subject Heading in PubMed for Interprofessional Education was only created in 2021 and prior research was indexed under Interprofessional Relations or Interdisciplinary Communication—terms not specific to education.

For my Research Training Institute project, I worked with an interprofessional team to create and validate search strategies for IPE studies in PubMed. The three sets of validated search terms, tested against a gold standard set of IPE papers published in systematic reviews, have a recall of 71.5%, 82.7%, and 95.1%. The first is more focused on efficient literature searching, the last has high recall for comprehensive literature searching and reviews, and the remaining one is a middle ground between the other two. These search strategies offer various options for librarians and researchers to have easier and more efficient access to the literature and facilitate future synthesis of IPE research. The results of this study have now been published in the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA).

Rebecca Carlson, AHIP, is a 2021 Fellow of the MLA Research Training Institute (RTI). This study was the focus of her RTI research. The RTI project was possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (RE-246568-OLS-20).

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