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The sea of evidence-based medicine is vast, and wading through volumes of medical journals or digital feeds sent to an inbox isn’t practical.

Journal clubs came into existence to help doctors and healthcare providers efficiently keep up to date with key details of research papers and clinical trials. As enjoyable as it might be to meet with colleagues to discuss trends in research, that information needs to be accessible where doctors spend most of their time—with their patients.

In the last few years a number of digital resources have surfaced with the goal of providing clinicians with the salient points of current medical research. Journal Club app and its Web-based counterpart Wiki Journal Club (WJC) provide a user-reviewed collection of research summaries from medical literature.

These resources put the essential features of landmark medical trials right in the palm of your hand. The developer’s intention was to create a resource that allows clinicians to get the data needed while still being able to focus on direct patient care.

Utility and Main Features

Not unlike SparkNotes for literature, the Journal Club app condenses seminal articles into summaries that clinicians can quickly read and assess for relevance for their clinical needs. All content is written and peer-reviewed by physicians and medical providers.

The app sorts trials by Name, Date, Specialty and Disease, which appear as tabs on the bottom of the screen. The interface is clean and easy to use. Under Specialty, users will find an alphabetical list to scroll through. Clicking on a Specialty will take the user into a more detailed list of choices relevant to that area of medical research.

The same applies for the Disease tab. Clinical trials are also listed by name with helpful subtitles that explain the aim of the trial and year conducted. Browsing by Date pulls up all trials in chronological order.

Article summaries of trials contain the following information:

  • Brief Overview, called The Bottom Line
  • Major points of the study
  • Design
  • Population (Exclusion Criteria is noted)
  • Interventions
  • Outcomes
  • Criticisms
  • Funding
  • Reference Links to original research accessed via PubMed, Full Text, PDF and/or WJC website

The writers of WJC and the JC app “have done an impressive job condensing large research papers into brief summaries without losing too much critical detail,” wrote Tom Lewis, editor of iMedicalApps.

It is not possible to review every Specialty within the app. However, it is important to note that clinicians who are users of the app have shared in reviews/forums that some Specialties have archived only a limited number of papers compared to what may be available in the medical literature at-large.

If there is a specific trial you want, and you can’t find it in the JC app database, that presents the problem of having to locate it in another resource. That being said, JC is updated weekly and has an ever-growing number of articles added to the database.

Journal Club app ($4.99) is designed for both iPhone and iPad as well as Android.

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