Developing the Role of a Health Information Professional in a Clinical Research Setting

Helen M. Seeley, Christine Urquhart, Peter Hutchinson, John Pickard


Objective - This paper examines the role of a health information professional in a large multidisciplinary project to improve services for head injury.

Methods - An action research approach was taken, with the information professional acting as co-ordinator. Change management processes were guided by theory and evidence. The health information professional was responsible for an ongoing literature review on knowledge management (clinical and political issues), data collection and analysis (from patient records), collating and comparing data (to help develop standards), and devising appropriate dissemination strategies.

Results - Important elements of the health information management role proved to be 1) co-ordination; 2) setting up mechanisms for collaborative learning through information sharing; and 3) using the theoretical frameworks (identified from the literature review) to help guide implementation. The role that emerged here has some similarities to the informationist role that stresses domain knowledge, continuous learning and working in context (embedding). This project also emphasised the importance of co-ordination, and the ability to work across traditional library information analysis (research literature discovery and appraisal) and information analysis of patient data sets (the information management role).

Conclusion - Experience with this project indicates that health information professionals will need to be prepared to work with patient record data and synthesis of that data, design systems to co-ordinate patient data collection, as well as critically appraise external evidence.


Health Information Professional; Role development; Evidenc-base practice

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