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Printed educational materials: effects on professional practice and healthcare outcomes

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2012
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (93rd percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (80th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 blog
15 tweeters
2 Facebook pages


246 Dimensions

Readers on

719 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
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Printed educational materials: effects on professional practice and healthcare outcomes
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2012
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd004398.pub3
Pubmed ID

Anik Giguère, France Légaré, Jeremy Grimshaw, Stéphane Turcotte, Michelle Fiander, Agnes Grudniewicz, Sun Makosso-Kallyth, Fredric M Wolf, Anna P Farmer, Marie-Pierre Gagnon


Printed educational materials are widely used passive dissemination strategies to improve the quality of clinical practice and patient outcomes. Traditionally they are presented in paper formats such as monographs, publication in peer-reviewed journals and clinical guidelines. To assess the effect of printed educational materials on the practice of healthcare professionals and patient health outcomes.To explore the influence of some of the characteristics of the printed educational materials (e.g. source, content, format) on their effect on professional practice and patient outcomes. For this update, search strategies were rewritten and substantially changed from those published in the original review in order to refocus the search from published material to printed material and to expand terminology describing printed materials. Given the significant changes, all databases were searched from start date to June 2011. We searched: MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), HealthStar, CINAHL, ERIC, CAB Abstracts, Global Health, and the EPOC Register. We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-randomised trials, controlled before and after studies (CBAs) and interrupted time series (ITS) analyses that evaluated the impact of printed educational materials (PEMs) on healthcare professionals' practice or patient outcomes, or both. We included three types of comparisons: (1) PEM versus no intervention, (2) PEM versus single intervention, (3) multifaceted intervention where PEM is included versus multifaceted intervention without PEM. There was no language restriction. Any objective measure of professional practice (e.g. number of tests ordered, prescriptions for a particular drug), or patient health outcomes (e.g. blood pressure) were included. Two review authors undertook data extraction independently, and any disagreement was resolved by discussion among the review authors. For analyses, the included studies were grouped according to study design, type of outcome (professional practice or patient outcome, continuous or dichotomous) and type of comparison. For controlled trials, we reported the median effect size for each outcome within each study, the median effect size across outcomes for each study and the median of these effect sizes across studies. Where the data were available, we re-analysed the ITS studies and reported median differences in slope and in level for each outcome, across outcomes for each study, and then across studies. We categorised each PEM according to potential effects modifiers related to the source of the PEMs, the channel used for their delivery, their content, and their format. The review includes 45 studies: 14 RCTs and 31 ITS studies. Almost all the included studies (44/45) compared the effectiveness of PEM to no intervention. One single study compared paper-based PEM to the same document delivered on CD-ROM. Based on seven RCTs and 54 outcomes, the median absolute risk difference in categorical practice outcomes was 0.02 when PEMs were compared to no intervention (range from 0 to +0.11). Based on three RCTs and eight outcomes, the median improvement in standardised mean difference for continuous profession practice outcomes was 0.13 when PEMs were compared to no intervention (range from -0.16 to +0.36). Only two RCTs and two ITS studies reported patient outcomes. In addition, we re-analysed 54 outcomes from 25 ITS studies, using time series regression and observed statistically significant improvement in level or in slope in 27 outcomes. From the ITS studies, we calculated improvements in professional practice outcomes across studies after PEM dissemination (standardised median change in level = 1.69). From the data gathered, we could not comment on which PEM characteristic influenced their effectiveness. The results of this review suggest that when used alone and compared to no intervention, PEMs may have a small beneficial effect on professional practice outcomes. There is insufficient information to reliably estimate the effect of PEMs on patient outcomes, and clinical significance of the observed effect sizes is not known. The effectiveness of PEMs compared to other interventions, or of PEMs as part of a multifaceted intervention, is uncertain.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 719 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 10 1%
Germany 2 <1%
Spain 2 <1%
United States 2 <1%
Brazil 2 <1%
Canada 2 <1%
South Africa 1 <1%
Italy 1 <1%
Chile 1 <1%
Other 3 <1%
Unknown 693 96%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 159 22%
Unspecified 91 13%
Student > Ph. D. Student 90 13%
Researcher 82 11%
Student > Bachelor 76 11%
Other 220 31%
Unknown 1 <1%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 321 45%
Unspecified 119 17%
Nursing and Health Professions 102 14%
Social Sciences 42 6%
Psychology 34 5%
Other 100 14%
Unknown 1 <1%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 17. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 19 July 2019.
All research outputs
of 13,385,708 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 10,576 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 142,957 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 90 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 13,385,708 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 93rd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 10,576 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 20.9. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 73% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 142,957 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 90 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 80% of its contemporaries.