With thousands of medical articles published each year, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? What is new, true, and clinically important? At American Family Physician, we work to provide readers with “one-stop shopping” for clinical information, whether it is a clinical review article, a Tip from another journal, a Cochrane summary, or a Point-of-Care Guide. In this issue, we introduce a new feature, AFP Journal Club—the Story Behind the Study, which is designed to highlight important clinical studies, as well as help readers become better consumers of the vast medical literature.
This feature is based on the popular Journal Club Live presentations seen by thousands of physicians at medical conventions nationally. We are fortunate to have the originators of Journal Club Live, Drs. Robert Dachs, Mark Graber, and Andrea Darby-Stewart, serve as the presenters of this lively and engaging forum. Each month, the “Three Amigos”—as we like to think of them—will discuss an interesting journal article in a conversational, fun, and interactive manner. These articles will involve a “hot topic” that affects the family physician's practice or that “busts” commonly held medical myths. The authors might tackle a controversy in medicine, or highlight key “practice changers”—studies that prompt you to change how you diagnose or treat a common medical problem.
The format will start with a clinical question, such as “Is one proton pump inhibitor better than another?” The authors will succinctly review what an article says, and then tell us whether we should believe it, and why. They close with advice about what the physician should do, and they provide take-home points for practice.
In sorting through the study, they will also show you how to tell good studies from bad and how to distinguish patient-oriented from disease-oriented evidence, and they will highlight key principles of critical analysis and evidence-based medicine (EBM). They will also demystify statistical concepts and arm readers with tools to make them better judges of what they read. Each discussion will highlight the main clinical points from the articles, as well as the key EBM concepts and statistical terms. We will collect these concepts and terms in our online EBM Toolkit, available athttps://www.aafp.org/afp/ebmtoolkit.
We hope this new feature not only provides you with useful clinical information, but also shows you how to do a better job of finding and evaluating important information. We expect that most of our readers will learn from this feature on their own, and we're eager to hear how you like it. Some readers may want to incorporate it into a real-life journal club, and we are interested in hearing how this meets that goal as well. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
editor's note: Dr. Siwek is editor of American Family Physician. Dr. Ebell is deputy editor for evidence-based medicine for AFP.