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October is Health Literacy Month, and to commemorate it, we asked Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies Health Sciences Information Specialist and Assistant Professor Jason Reed to share what he does in his work to support Purdue University faculty, students, and staff.

Jason Reed, Assistant Professor and Health Sciences Information Specialist, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies

Jason Reed, Assistant Professor and Health Sciences Information Specialist, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies

What Does a Health Sciences Information Specialist Do?

by Jason Reed, Health Sciences Information Specialist and Assistant Professor

Regularly, I collaborate with faculty, staff, and students to support research and learning in health sciences disciplines. My assigned areas include the Purdue Department of Health and Kinesiology, the Purdue College of Pharmacy‘s Professional Program, and the Purdue Department of Public Health.

A key component of my work involves supporting evidence-based practice (EBP). EBP is a framework that encourages health practitioners to use scientific evidence to guide decisions, along with patient preferences and their own acquired knowledge, and focuses on how students will continue to discover, evaluate, and implement new information throughout their health careers.

A few examples of how I collaborate with my liaison units to support EBP through teaching include:

  • working with athletic training students to teach them how to discover information for use in Critically Appraised Topics, a type of EBP that focuses on using a literature review to answer clinical questions.
  • In health and kinesiology I provide instruction to students on searching for intervention studies guided by behavioral theories to support creating/starting a public health initiative.
  • In the College of Pharmacy Professional Program, I teach lab sessions for the first- and second-year students. In these labs, we discuss the importance of EBP and how to determine the best resource to use for answering questions and how to best use those resources to find evidence supporting their clinical questions.

In all of these examples, I include in class activities to provide an opportunity for the students to engage with and practice the skills discussed in class, not only to help them develop a mastery of the skills, but also to provide opportunities for the students to seek clarification on aspects they don’t fully understand.

On the research side, I have been very active in working on systematic reviews. High-quality systematic reviews and meta-analyses are considered the highest levels of evidence in evidence-based practice and are guided by a set of guidelines, PRISMA Checklist.

Systematic reviews strive to discover and assess all materials relating to a specific research question, with the goal of answering that question within the limits of the available evidence. One of the recommendations for completing a systematic review is including a database expert on the team. That is the role I have filled on several systematic reviews from multiple colleges and departments on campus including the Professional Program in the College of Pharmacy, Purdue Department of Public Health, Purdue Department of Health and Kinesiology, and Purdue Department of Nutrition.

This work on systematic reviews has led to an opportunity to co-instruct, with Bethany McGowan, a course on systematic reviews offered to graduate students as a Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies’ designated course. This course was offered for the first time in the spring 2019 semester, we had 10 students from four different programs on campus.

The instruction focuses on teaching students how to prepare their review projects to meet the standards of a systematic review by teaching them the best practices for designing a search strategy, identifying the people and tools they will use in their review, and considering any potential biases in the project.


Learn more about other areas of Jason Reed’s work at http://blogs.lib.purdue.edu/news/2019/02/08/climate-change-game-reed/.