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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 7: Librarians' Role in Health Services Research (Page 6 of 12)

Platform for Change (Medical Library Association)

Snapshot of the MLA document titled, Platform for Change. This URL will open in a new window. In 1992, the Medical Library Association published Platform for Change to support the development of new skills by health sciences librarians. Platform for Change urges librarians to prepare themselves to meet the needs of today's and tomorrow's health sciences environment. Multi-disciplinary, life-long educational goals must be met to serve the needs of health providers and consumers (Platform, 1992).

Platform for Change urges librarians to prepare themselves to meet the needs of today's and tomorrow's health sciences environment. Multi-disciplinary, life-long educational goals must be met to serve the needs of health providers and consumers.

Understanding the Health Sciences Environment

One of the core areas of knowledge described in the Platform is the health sciences environment, a key component in health services research:

  • Health sciences librarians must understand the contexts in which the need for biomedical and related information emerges and the unique ways of perceiving and interpreting those environments. Therefore, they should be alert to the changing information and health care environments and the major program and policy sources, including:
  • legal, ethical, economic, and legislative issues;
  • health sciences professions: system and structure, terminology, education and training patterns, and associations and organizations (Platform, 1992)

Section 7, Platform for Change

Section 7 of the Platform for Change (Health Information Science Knowledge and Skills) examines "Research, Analysis, and Interpretation." It states:

Few dispute the library's responsibility to explore the "fundamental nature of biomedical information storage, organization, utilization, and application in learning, patient care, and the generation of new knowledge." (5) In order to conduct and interpret research, the health sciences librarian is called upon to apply knowledge, skills, and understanding of:

  • theoretical bases of health sciences information, education, and clinical practice;
  • information structure, transfer, and processing;
  • analysis, evaluation, and application of research results;
  • methods for evaluation of system effectiveness and efficiency;
  • statistical theory; and
  • research methodologies.

In the future, the profession is likely to need an array of knowledge and skills, not all of which are envisioned in this list. Developments in the field will require librarians to continue to acquire new knowledge and skills. At the same time, the profession will continue to define its mission and scope, reshaping the body of knowledge and skills-adding new ones and increasing and decreasing the importance of others."

Although this report is several years old the content is still relevant. The skills listed above are essential if health sciences librarians want to join the team of health services researchers and be active participants.

Discussion Questions

  1. Has the discipline of health sciences librarianship changed since the Platform for Change document was issued in 1992? Is it is time to revisit the document? What recommendations would you make if you were the Chair of a committee tasked with examining health sciences librarianship in the early 21st century?
  2. Are there any skills not mentioned in the Platform for Change document that you think need to be added to any revision of the document? Which ones? Describe.
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