Hospital nurses’ information retrieval behaviours in
relation to evidence based nursing: a literature review
Berit Elisabeth Alving*, Janne Buck Christensen*
& Lars Thrysøe
*The Medical Research Library, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark,
Department of Quality, Research,
Innovation and Education, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark,
Department of Cardiology, Odense University
Hospital, Odense, Denmark, and
Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
Objective: The purpose of this literature review is to provide an overview of the information retrieval
behaviour of clinical nurses, in terms of the use of databases and other information resources and their fre-
quency of use.
Methods: Systematic searches carried out in ﬁve databases and handsearching were used to identify the
studies from 2010 to 2016, with a populations, exposures and outcomes (PEO) search strategy, focusing
on the question: In which databases or other information resources do hospital nurses search for evidence
based information, and how often?
Results: Of 5272 titles retrieved based on the search strategy, only nine studies fulﬁlled the criteria for
inclusion. The studies are from the United States, Canada, Taiwan and Nigeria. The results show that hos-
pital nurses’ primary choice of source for evidence based information is Google and peers, while biblio-
graphic databases such as PubMed are secondary choices. Data on frequency are only included in four of
the studies, and data are heterogenous.
Conclusions: The reasons for choosing Google and peers are primarily lack of time; lack of information;
lack of retrieval skills; or lack of training in database searching. Only a few studies are published on clini-
cal nurses’ retrieval behaviours, and more studies are needed from Europe and Australia.
Keywords: bibliographic databases; evidence-based practice; information literacy; information retrieval;
information seeking behaviour; information sources; nurses; review, literature
Hospital nurses use Google and peers more than bibliographic databases for retrieving information
on evidence based nursing.
International differences in the use of PubMed and CINAHL exist.
Nurses lack skills in information retrieval in bibliographic databases and time dedicated to it.
Knowing the needs and the information seeking behaviour of the nurses can help the health
librarians to make targeted courses and information material.
Clinical nurses have always obtained health care
information for the beneﬁt of patient care. Some
studies (Dee & Stanley, 2005a; Morris-Docker,
Angela, Harrison, Wolstenholme, & Black, 2004;
Pravikoff, Tanner, & Pierce, 2005), mainly over
10 years ago, document how and where nurses
ﬁnd this information (Dee & Stanley, 2005b). In
these studies, the overall conclusion was that the
Correspondence: Berit Elisabeth Alving, The Medical Research Library, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. E-mail:
© 2018 Health Libraries Group
Health Information & Libraries Journal, 35, pp. 3–23