Factors affecting clinical referrals to the medical library





medical libraries, consumer health information, information dissemination, patient education as topic, referral and consultation


Objectives: To determine why and when clinical care teams refer patients to the medical library.

Methods: A 2018 survey of clinical care teams at a research hospital measured awareness of library services available to patients, facilitators and barriers to referral, and likelihood of future referral. Spearman correlations were used to determine the strength of relationships between familiarity with the services and how often respondents referred those services. Referral rate distributions were compared between job type groups.

Results: Overall, self-reported referral rates were low. There was a marginally significant relationship between referral rate and job type (p=0.01), with providers having lower referral rates. There was a positive correlation between familiarity with library services and service referral frequency (rs=0.78 for combined data) and between current referral rates and likelihood of future referral (rs=0.43 for combined data, p<0.0001 for both). Among respondents who had never referred patients, the top reasons were lack of awareness of library services and uncertainty about how to make referrals.

Conclusions: The results suggest that lack of knowledge, rather than lack of interest and support, results in lower clinic referrals to the library. When providers are aware of the library they are referring patients, and those currently referring are likely to make future referrals. The qualitative responses show agreement, linking the lack of referrals to marketing and procedural insufficiencies (rather than distrust or dislike of the services), which indicates potential for increasing referrals by addressing these deficits. A streamlined patient referral system from clinic to library could be beneficial.

Author Biographies

Liz Kellermeyer

Biomedical Research Librarian
Library & Knowledge Services
National Jewish Health
Denver, CO

Matthew Strand

Division Head, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
National Jewish Health
Denver, CO


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Additional Files


02/25/2021 — Updated on 02/25/2021


How to Cite

Kellermeyer, L., & Strand, M. (2021). Factors affecting clinical referrals to the medical library. Hypothesis: Research Journal for Health Information Professionals, 32(1). https://doi.org/10.18060/23908





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