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The Informationist: A New Health Profession?

Frank Davidoff, MD; and Valerie Florance, PhD
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Requests for Single Reprints: Frank Davidoff, MD, American College of Physicians–American Society of Internal Medicine, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Requests To Purchase Bulk Reprints (minimum, 100 copies): the Reprints Coordinator; phone, 215-351-2657; e-mail, reprints@mail.acponline.org.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Davidoff: American College of Physicians–American Society for Internal Medicine, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

Dr. Florance: Association of American Medical Colleges, 2450 N Street NW, Room 419, Washington, DC 20037.

Ann Intern Med. 2000;132(12):996-998. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-132-12-200006200-00012
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Physicians have always had a professional obligation to base their decisions on the best available information, an assumption now explicitly embodied in the concept of evidence-based medicine (1). For decades, when physicians wanted information from the published literature, they relied heavily on medical librarians or office assistants to do the searches. The advent of computer-based indexes such as MEDLINE promised to change all that by putting the basic information retrieval tools directly into physicians' hands. The disappointing reality, however, is that physicians still don't regularly search the medical literature themselves, nor do they ask for professional help in searching nearly as often as they need to. Many questions arising in clinical encounters that can, and should, be answered on the basis of evidence from the published literature are therefore never addressed (23).

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