AFP recently reinforced its efforts in evidence-based medicine (EBM) with the addition of a new contributing editor, Henry C. Barry, M.D., M.S., who will help evaluate and apply the SOR (strength of recommendation) labeling taxonomy to review articles. The SOR taxonomy was introduced in the February 1, 2004, issue (Am Fam Physician 2004;69;548–56) and will eventually replace the previous strength of evidence system. Dr. Barry notes that as more practicing physicians become proponents of EBM, they will need to know that recommendations in clinical review articles are more than just opinion, and the process of adding SOR labels makes this goal more explicit. He hopes to consider the day-to-day concerns of physicians and create practical guides married to their theoretic base, integrating scientific rigor balanced by practical issues. He brings with him skills in information mastery, which he has applied in his affiliation with InfoPOEMs and in his role as senior associate chair and associate professor in the Department of Family Practice at the College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
As an editor for InfoPOEMs, Dr. Barry screens the medical literature to find POEMs (Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters). Each of the InfoPOEM editors reviews 20 to 25 assigned journals, and studies are selected according to rigorous criteria for inclusion on the InfoPOEM Web site. POEMs are also published in AFP. Dr. Barry searches the orthopedic and pediatric journals according to the criteria to find what is novel and worth reporting on. He also bases his search on findings from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which includes information about the most common reasons that patients visit family physicians. He chooses studies that focus on patient outcomes, selecting an average of six to eight articles per month.
While Dr. Barry's activities at Michigan State University include teaching, faculty development, and research, he still spends 40 percent of his time caring for patients, so he understands the issues that physicians face. His teaching, faculty development, and research projects mirror his interest in information management. Most of the time he spends with medical students is focused on information management, and he is developing a curriculum to help teach these students skills in reasoning and judgment, decision-making, and critical reading. His involvement in faculty development is related to research methodology, and his research efforts are centered on information technology and translation of research into practice.
Dr. Barry graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, and completed a residency in family medicine and a faculty development fellowship at Michigan State University. As a medical student, Dr. Barry read AFP and thought it was a useful source of information about managing patients. His academic interests were shaped by his early clinical experiences after residency, when he spent four years in the National Health Service Core in Appalachia. There he learned the importance of distilling research findings into practice. His first article, on exercise and aging, appeared nearly 20 years ago in AFP and was written while he was in practice in West Virginia. Because of the interest generated by his article, he realized how much AFP influences people, and he admits that this first article still continues to attract requests for more articles and seminars on this topic. However, he points out that AFP is not the same journal it was 20 years ago. The journal mirrors what has happened in the evolution of family medicine, and the AFP of today is more aware of the importance of research and its applications and more explicit about the application of research.