Evaluation of Five Full-Text Drug Databases by Pharmacy Students, Faculty, and Librarians: Do the Groups Agree?

Article excerpt

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to assess the usefulness of five full-text drug databases as evaluated by medical librarians, pharmacy faculty, and pharmacy students at an academic health center. Study findings and recommendations are offered as guidance to librarians responsible for purchasing decisions.

Methods: Four pharmacy students, four pharmacy faculty members, and four medical librarians answered ten drug information questions using the databases AHFS Drug Information (STAT!Ref); DRUGDEX (Micromedex); eFacts (Drug Facts and Comparisons); Lexi-Drugs Online (Lexi-Comp); and the PDR Electronic Library (Micromedex). Participants noted whether each database contained answers to the questions and evaluated each database on ease of navigation, screen readability, overall satisfaction, and product recommendation.

Results: While each study group found that DRUGDEX provided the most direct answers to the ten questions, faculty members gave Lexi-Drugs the highest overall rating. Students favored eFacts. The faculty and students found the PDR least useful. Librarians ranked DRUGDEX the highest and AHFS the lowest. The comments of pharmacy faculty and students show that these groups preferred concise, easy-to-use sources; librarians focused on the comprehensiveness, layout, and supporting references of the databases.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates the importance of consulting with primary clientele before purchasing databases. Although there are many online drug databases to consider, present findings offer strong support for eFacts, Lexi-Drugs, and DRUGDEX.


Drug literature is vast and complex. Keeping up with the literature is a universal problem in the pharmaceutical and other sciences.

Drug literature is growing rapidly in size. It is also increasingly complex, i.e., interdisciplinary and interprofessional in nature.

Literature on clinical experience with drugs is sizable and is growing. Its effective use by the practitioner offers many difficulties.

Competent evaluation of masses of drug information is particularly necessary. [1]

Although these words could have been written today, Hubert Humphrey actually wrote them in 1963 when a Senate committee on government operations requested a National Library of Medicine faculty survey on "The Nature and Magnitude of Drug Literature." As the amount of information available to pharmacists has increased, the pharmacist's role has expanded. Over the past forty years pharmacists have become more than mere dispensers of pills; they are often the first providers of information about prescribed medications or over-the-counter remedies. Furthermore, patients and the general public often consider a pharmacist the most accessible and trusted health care professional [2]. Growth in medication use during the 1990s has further escalated the demand for pharmacists [3]. Pharmacists are now located in supermarkets, ubiquitous chain pharmacies, and specialized care settings, such as transplantation, cancer, and critical care hospital units. In addition to counseling patients, pharmacists advise other health professionals about the interactions and side effects of drugs in order to reduce medication errors. As a consequence, a pharmacist must know how to efficiently and quickly find accurate and complete drug information without searching through stacks of print resources or spending hours using the computer. Moreover, librarians must know what resources to select for their pharmacist clientele.

In 1983, there were three bibliographic databases published exclusively for pharmacy: International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, Pharmaceutical News Index, and Ringdoc [4]. MEDLINE, Excerpta Medica, and other scientific databases also covered pharmacy topics. With the advent of CD-ROM, full-text databases were developed. Most of these databases were electronic versions of print sources. By 2001, Malone had identified eight full-text general drug information sources: AHFS (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) Drug Information; Clinical Pharmacology; Clinical Reference Library; DRUGDEX Information System; Drug Facts & Comparisons; Mosby's GenRx; the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR); and USPDI (United States Pharmacopeial Convention). …