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Information for evidence-based care. By Roberts R. (Pp 79, paperback; £17.95.) Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press, 1999. ISBN 1 85775 356 9

Evidence based care is upon us, whether we like it or not. There is a multitude of books on the subject, so how is this one different? This is the first in the “Harnessing health information series”, and summarises how evidence based care has evolved into mainstream NHS policy. It does appear to achieve what the series purports to do, as it harnesses health information on the subject. The reader is gently guided around the different organisations set up to implement evidence based care, and the different policies in each of the countries of the United Kingdom are described. Many useful resources are highlighted, and the reader feels that he or she can make sense of all the jargon in current usage.

There is a brief introduction to the practice of evidence based care, with an overview of the types of research, including qualitative research, and their advantages and disadvantages for answering different sorts of questions. The book does not set out to duplicate the many “How to...” books, but, rather, points the reader in the right direction. There is a useful chapter on information sources on the Internet, and a comprehensive chapter on guidelines, describing most of the arguments for and against. Again, the reader is continually pointed in the direction of other useful information, without it being duplicated in this book. Patient information is covered in another chapter, and this is interesting and thought provoking reading. Audit, and where it fits into the system, is also included. Finally, clinical quality and clinical governance are brought into the picture, and it all makes sense.

Ruth Roberts is a nurse, and she emphasises the importance of multidisciplinary working. This is an easy book to digest, making common sense of what sometimes seems a complex system. It gives a “warts and all” description of evidence based care. The reader is not put off, but, rather, is left with the feeling, “I can do this”.

This will be a useful resource for managers, nurses, doctors, and clinical quality coordinators. It will be useful for senior staff with a good understanding of the health service and its current requirements, as well as being a good starting point for more junior staff who are trying to make sense of white paper recommendations, and the national organisations set up to implement those recommendations. It can be read in a couple of hours, and will no doubt become pre-interview reading for would be consultants and specialist registrars.