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Evaluation of outreach services for primary care and mental health; assessing the impact

Robinson, L. & Bawden, D. (2007). Evaluation of outreach services for primary care and mental health; assessing the impact. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 24(1), pp. 57-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00745.x


Objectives: This paper reports an evaluation, carried out for London Health Libraries, of the impact of outreach services to primary care and mental health workers in thirteen different settings. The main aims of the project were to identify the impact being made by the service, and to produce best practice guidelines for outreach services in this kind of ‘difficult’ community setting.

Methods: Methods used were: analysis of documents (all 13 services); analysis of any evaluation already performed by or for the service (all 13 services); interviews with outreach librarians (11 services); questionnaire survey of a representative sample of users (8 services, with 66 returned questionnaires, 35% response rate). The services evaluated were very diverse, in terms of setting, structure, functions and activities, and extent and nature of self-evaluation and reporting. The evaluation was therefore largely qualitative, in order to deal with the lack of a consistent ‘template’ for analysis. Emphasis was placed on trying to identify critical incidents , where it could be shown unambiguously that the outreach services made a difference to practice.

Study limitations included the difficulty of summarising and comparing very different situations and diverse services, difficulty in identifying critical incidents, and an inability to study ‘non-users’.

Findings: Service recipients felt better informed, more up-
to-date, more aware of resources, more confident and supported in their work, and saved time. Services contributed to a richer information environment. Direct impacts, demonstrably improved patient care, cost savings etc., were more difficult to establish.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Science & Technology, Technology, Information Science & Library Science, INFORMATION SCIENCE & LIBRARY SCIENCE, INFORMATION-SERVICES, EMPIRIC PROJECT, PATIENT-CARE, LIBRARY, UK, TRUST
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z719 Libraries (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
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