Evidence-based information needs of public health workers: a systematized review


  • Jill Barr-Walker MPH, MS, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Library, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA




Evidence-Based Information Needs, Public Health Workers, Reviews, Systematized


Objective: This study assessed public health workers’ evidence-based information needs, based on a review of the literature using a systematic search strategy. This study is based on a thesis project conducted as part of the author’s master’s in public health coursework and is considered a systematized review.

Methods: Four databases were searched for English-language articles published between 2005 and 2015: PubMed, Web of Science, Library Literature & Information Science Index, and Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA). Studies were excluded if there was no primary data collection, the population in the study was not identified as public health workers, “information” was not defined according to specific criteria, or evidence-based information and public health workers were not the major focus. Studies included in the final analysis underwent data extraction, critical appraisal using CASP and STROBE checklists, and thematic analysis.

Results: Thirty-three research studies were identified in the search, including twenty-one using quantitative methods and twelve using qualitative methods. Critical appraisal revealed many potential biases, particularly in the validity of research. Thematic analysis revealed five common themes: (1) definition of information needs, (2) current information-seeking behavior and use, (3) definition of evidence-based information, (4) barriers to information needs, and (5) public health–specific issues.

Conclusions: Recommendations are given for how librarians can increase the use of evidence-based information in public health research, practice, and policy making. Further research using rigorous methodologies and transparent reporting practices in a wider variety of settings is needed to further evaluate public health workers’ information needs.