Turning Research into Practice (TRIP)

Article excerpt

Turning Research Into Practice (TRIP). Jon Brassey, TRIP Database, 12 Llansannor Drive, Cardiff, UK, CF10 4AW; jon@tripdatabase.com; http: / /www.tripdatabase.com; free Website.

The Turning Research Into Practice (TRIP) database was launched in 1997 as a medical search engine with a focus on evidence-based medicine (EBM) content. The initial purpose was to speed up the process of answering clinical questions by offering users a one-stop shopping approach to searching. Instead of jumping from one resource to another, the TRIP database allows users to search many at one time [1].

The resource began as an Excel spreadsheet with three fields: title, uniform resource locator (URL), and year of publication. To search the spreadsheet, users were limited to the "Find" function offered in Microsoft products. Eventually, the resource became Web-based and received its permanent URL in 2000. With its growing content and increase in use, the developers decided to make the resource available through subscription in 2002 to generate revenue to improve the resource. However, to keep with the spirit of accessibility and in turn to ease users into subscription-based access, resource users were allowed to search five times free per week. On September 1, 2006, the resource was relaunched as a free online resource [1].

One of the nice features of the TRIP database is that results are displayed in categories based on Haynes' work on the 4S approach to current best evidence of studies, syntheses, synopses, and systems [2] (described on the TRIP Website). The TRIP categories are: Evidence-based Synopses; Clinical Questions; Systematic Reviews; Guidelines (North American, Europe, Other); Core Primary Research; eTextbooks; Clinical Calculators; and core general medical journals retrieved from MEDLINE (PubMed). Each of these categories searches a number of resources to produce the results. For example, the Evidence-based Synopses searches Bandolier, BestBets, POEMs, Clinical Evidence, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and many more.

To further understand the Website and resource inclusion process, the reviewer read through the About Us pages of the Website. The Websites and resources included in the TRIP database are systematically selected using a site evaluation tool. TRIP works closely with the Department of Family Medicine at Laval University, Quebec, Canada, in this process. The department has put together a Directory of Clinical Information Websites, which includes over 100 critically appraised Websites that offer systematic reviews, clinical practice guidelines, and critically appraised topics. TRIP looks at these Websites and evaluates them using an in-house evaluation tool and a team of information experts and clinicians. Once a Website has passed the test, it will become part of the "grabbing" process.

The "grabbing" process begins with identifying the clinically relevant material in a preapproved Website. Then the title, URL, and date of publication is extracted and entered into the TRIP database. The TRIP spidering software is then used to visit the URLs entered into the database and grabs the content of that particular page. It is then processed and ready to be searched in the TRIP database. The database is updated monthly.

The reviewer found searching the database relatively easy and straightforward. TRIP states that it takes unknown search terms and matches them against a commonly misspelled word database to try to retrieve matches. TRIP also searches for any keywords and/or synonyms matching valid search terms entered. The database can be searched using Boolean operators as well as natural language searching. The reviewer took a question regarding oral rehydration versus intravenous therapy for gastroenteritis in children aged two to five years and tested it using a few different approaches.

The first attempt was to enter search terms into the general search box on the home page combing the search terms with a Boolean "AND": "gastroenteritis AND oral rehydration therapy AND intravenous therapy AND children. …