[Whenever one contemplates any new health information initiative, I think it is always useful to explore some basic questions:]
VS: First I would mention - that most of these questions (or similar ones) are what librarians were trained to ask themselves or their library users at what were called 'reference interviews'. We are speaking in the 'information sciences' space and some of these questions have a large 'spectrum' of answers. According to me, today is the time when we badly need to recognize the need for high calibre well trained librarians more than ever before!
[ What *are* their current information needs?]
VS: Very often the seekers themselves cannot spell out their needs, for various reasons. The toughest reason is that they themselves do not know that answers may exist, or that they can ask questions about how they feel. Typical examples are 'post partum depression' - a condition which many women feel are unique to them and it never crosses their mind that it is something they can seek help about. Recently a doctor gave me an example of a man who complained of abdominal pain every night. Her father - also a doctor, after examining him asked him some questions and figured that the man had erectile dysfunction. After admitting this, his complaint of abdominal pain vanished pretty soon, simply because he was able to talk about it and knew that it was something that doctors could do something about!
[What methods do they currently use to address these needs?]
VS: I ask people this question very often and the answer is mostly 'Google' or 'Asking others'...
[How might this gap be closed, and by whom?]
VS: Creation of more of Evidence summaries / Basic knowledge summaries. I also believe the time is ripe for creating a young breed of information professionals who undergo the basics of a health sciences degree, followed by an advanced Information Sciences degree. These people should be at a higher level than the current professionals called "informationists" who have set the foundation for such an activity (in some of the developed nations). They can work in institutions with a health care team, or even be part of a national online system, where people could log in and take their professional help
Date of HIFA message:
Monday, June 23, 2014
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