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Information specialists and Health Technology 
Assessment: collaborating or transferring skills? 
Patrice CHALON, Laurence KOHN 
What literature says… What we planned… 
Public KCE experts in HTA, the Information Specialist (IS) 
Intervention Experts conduct the literature search on their own 
Comparison Literature search is conducted by an Information Specialist, in 
STRENGTHS 
z KCE experts are happy with the current situation 
z collaboration with colleagues brings other vision (multi disciplinary) 
z templates and procedures allow a transparency 
z selection of article by two experts in parallel reduces subjectivity 
z searching literature directly facilitates the project management 
What we would like to share… 
z Information specialists must meet their users to learn their needs and demands 
z Information specialists are seen as an important support when searching the evidence 
z Close collaboration with information specialists is seen as a valuable scenario… once suggested 
Contact 
Patrice.Chalon@kce.fgov.be 
Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) 
http://kce.fgov.be 
collaboration with the expert 
Outcome Process efficiency, time management, expert well-being 
What we conclude… 
KCE experts are happy with the existing situation, which corresponds to what they did previously. 
Some aspects could still be enhanced in the context of HTA: 
z The access to more e-journals has been achieved by participating to a consortium: this must be 
further developed. Providing rapidly a copy of articles is also essential: Inter-Library Loan will 
continue, other options will be explored. 
z Training must be established on a regular basis to take into account the turnover of experts. 
Knowledge sharing should be enhanced, live solution should be preferred to IT tools. 
z Lack of time can not be solved by the Information specialist, but keeping services efficient is 
essential. Systematically ask the Information Specialist to control the literature search process is 
suggested by the experts. 
“(…) it is advisable to consult health 
information specialists. These experts can 
be especially helpful when planning which 
databases to search, inclusion and 
exclusion criteria, and other aspects of 
literature searches.” 
Goodman CS, The Lewin Group. HTA 101. 
[Webpage] 2004 2007-07-20 [cited 2008-06- 
04] 
“The selection of resources for 
elucidating the question can often be 
carried out advantageously by an 
information specialist/librarian who is 
familiar with the various databases 
and knows how to search the 
individual databases.” 
Børlum Kristensen F, Sigmund H. Health 
Technology Assessment Handbook. 
Copenhagen: Danish Centre for Health 
Technology Assessment, National Board of 
Health 2008. 
“The ten roles identified are: project 
leader, project manager, literature 
searcher, reference manager, 
document supplier, critical appraiser, 
data extractor, data synthesiser, 
report writer and disseminator.” 
Beverley CA, Booth A, Bath PA. The role of 
the information specialist in the systematic 
review process: a health information case 
study. Health information and libraries 
journal. 2003 Jun;20(2):65-74. 
“The systematic literature search 
starts with an interview between main 
reviewer and information specialist 
who has to understand the research 
scenario.” 
Guba B. The Role of the Information 
Specialist in the Context of Health 
Technology Assessment. EAHIL Workshop 
2007: Pathway to new roles. Krakow, 
Poland: EAHIL 2007. 
“The HTA researcher will find it beneficial 
to work with an information specialist to 
identify information for an assessment.” 
Etext on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) 
Information Resources. [Webpage] 2004 2004- 
11-16 [cited 2008-06-04] 
“Literature search prepared by 
Information Specialist (…)” 
Brown A. Reviewing the Economic Evidence on 
Point-of-Care Devices for Oral Anticoagulation: An 
Application of the CADTH Economic Guidelines. 
5th Canadian Cochrane Symposium: Knowledge 
for Health. Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Cochrane 
Centre 2007. 
What we learned… 
THREATS 
z Several interfaces 
to bibliographical databases 
z Not enough e-journals 
z Lack of time to 
control the strategy 
z Lack of time to 
update the strategy 
z EndNote custom files 
managed by the 
Information Specialist only 
WEAKNESSES 
z time to control the strategy is often scarce 
z time to update the strategy is often lacking 
OPPORTUNITIES 
Library services 
z Access to Bibliographical databases 
z Access to e-journals 
(VDIC consortium) 
z Articles from ILL 
Tools 
z Procedures 
z Templates 
z EndNote 
Training and support 
z Support from colleagues 
(knowledge transfer) 
z Support from the Information 
Specialist 
(counselling, quality control) 
z Internal trainings 
(by the IS or field experts) 
z External trainings 
(CEBAM: Belgian Cochrane Centre) 
Focus group (2 hours)
Information specialists and Health Technology Assessment: 
collaborating or transfering skills? 
Author 
Patrice CHALON, Laurence KOHN 
Institution 
Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE), Brussels, Belgium 
Presenting author 
Patrice Chalon 
Abstract 
Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is the process by which evidence on the clinical 
effectiveness and the costs and benefits, long term as well as short term, of transferring the 
technology into clinical practice is systematically evaluated and recommendations generated as to the 
best approach. 
Information specialists or librarians are usually involved in the Health Technology Assessment 
process. They help their patrons in writing the search question, search the appropriate bibliographic 
databases with all their knowledge in order to retrieve the most pertinent citations, and provide 
support in the management of the references. They may also assess the results by themselves or take 
part to the writing of the report. In some case, the Information Specialist teaches and advises 
experimented scientists who lead the literature searching. 
At the Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE – Belgium), the information specialist 
organises the transfer of information literacy skills to the scientists. Those trainings are provided by 
the information specialist or by scientists experimented in Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) and Health 
Technology Assessment (HTA). The scientists are then independent in their work process and the 
project planning is not dependant on the availability of the information specialist. 
In this paper, we will present how we organize this skills transfer, the first results and the planned 
improvement.

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Information specialists and Health technology Assessment: collaborating or transferring skills?

  • 1. Information specialists and Health Technology Assessment: collaborating or transferring skills? Patrice CHALON, Laurence KOHN What literature says… What we planned… Public KCE experts in HTA, the Information Specialist (IS) Intervention Experts conduct the literature search on their own Comparison Literature search is conducted by an Information Specialist, in STRENGTHS z KCE experts are happy with the current situation z collaboration with colleagues brings other vision (multi disciplinary) z templates and procedures allow a transparency z selection of article by two experts in parallel reduces subjectivity z searching literature directly facilitates the project management What we would like to share… z Information specialists must meet their users to learn their needs and demands z Information specialists are seen as an important support when searching the evidence z Close collaboration with information specialists is seen as a valuable scenario… once suggested Contact Patrice.Chalon@kce.fgov.be Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) http://kce.fgov.be collaboration with the expert Outcome Process efficiency, time management, expert well-being What we conclude… KCE experts are happy with the existing situation, which corresponds to what they did previously. Some aspects could still be enhanced in the context of HTA: z The access to more e-journals has been achieved by participating to a consortium: this must be further developed. Providing rapidly a copy of articles is also essential: Inter-Library Loan will continue, other options will be explored. z Training must be established on a regular basis to take into account the turnover of experts. Knowledge sharing should be enhanced, live solution should be preferred to IT tools. z Lack of time can not be solved by the Information specialist, but keeping services efficient is essential. Systematically ask the Information Specialist to control the literature search process is suggested by the experts. “(…) it is advisable to consult health information specialists. These experts can be especially helpful when planning which databases to search, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and other aspects of literature searches.” Goodman CS, The Lewin Group. HTA 101. [Webpage] 2004 2007-07-20 [cited 2008-06- 04] “The selection of resources for elucidating the question can often be carried out advantageously by an information specialist/librarian who is familiar with the various databases and knows how to search the individual databases.” Børlum Kristensen F, Sigmund H. Health Technology Assessment Handbook. Copenhagen: Danish Centre for Health Technology Assessment, National Board of Health 2008. “The ten roles identified are: project leader, project manager, literature searcher, reference manager, document supplier, critical appraiser, data extractor, data synthesiser, report writer and disseminator.” Beverley CA, Booth A, Bath PA. The role of the information specialist in the systematic review process: a health information case study. Health information and libraries journal. 2003 Jun;20(2):65-74. “The systematic literature search starts with an interview between main reviewer and information specialist who has to understand the research scenario.” Guba B. The Role of the Information Specialist in the Context of Health Technology Assessment. EAHIL Workshop 2007: Pathway to new roles. Krakow, Poland: EAHIL 2007. “The HTA researcher will find it beneficial to work with an information specialist to identify information for an assessment.” Etext on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Information Resources. [Webpage] 2004 2004- 11-16 [cited 2008-06-04] “Literature search prepared by Information Specialist (…)” Brown A. Reviewing the Economic Evidence on Point-of-Care Devices for Oral Anticoagulation: An Application of the CADTH Economic Guidelines. 5th Canadian Cochrane Symposium: Knowledge for Health. Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Cochrane Centre 2007. What we learned… THREATS z Several interfaces to bibliographical databases z Not enough e-journals z Lack of time to control the strategy z Lack of time to update the strategy z EndNote custom files managed by the Information Specialist only WEAKNESSES z time to control the strategy is often scarce z time to update the strategy is often lacking OPPORTUNITIES Library services z Access to Bibliographical databases z Access to e-journals (VDIC consortium) z Articles from ILL Tools z Procedures z Templates z EndNote Training and support z Support from colleagues (knowledge transfer) z Support from the Information Specialist (counselling, quality control) z Internal trainings (by the IS or field experts) z External trainings (CEBAM: Belgian Cochrane Centre) Focus group (2 hours)
  • 2. Information specialists and Health Technology Assessment: collaborating or transfering skills? Author Patrice CHALON, Laurence KOHN Institution Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE), Brussels, Belgium Presenting author Patrice Chalon Abstract Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is the process by which evidence on the clinical effectiveness and the costs and benefits, long term as well as short term, of transferring the technology into clinical practice is systematically evaluated and recommendations generated as to the best approach. Information specialists or librarians are usually involved in the Health Technology Assessment process. They help their patrons in writing the search question, search the appropriate bibliographic databases with all their knowledge in order to retrieve the most pertinent citations, and provide support in the management of the references. They may also assess the results by themselves or take part to the writing of the report. In some case, the Information Specialist teaches and advises experimented scientists who lead the literature searching. At the Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE – Belgium), the information specialist organises the transfer of information literacy skills to the scientists. Those trainings are provided by the information specialist or by scientists experimented in Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) and Health Technology Assessment (HTA). The scientists are then independent in their work process and the project planning is not dependant on the availability of the information specialist. In this paper, we will present how we organize this skills transfer, the first results and the planned improvement.