Survey of user preferences from a comparative trial of UpToDate and ClinicalKey

Michael R. Kronenfeld, MLS, MBA, AHIP, R. Curtis Bay, PhD, William Coombs, MA. Survey of user preferences from a comparative trial of UpToDate and ClinicalKey. J Med Libr Assoc. 2013 April; 101(2): 151–154.

The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) recently published, and released to the general public, a study conducted by the A. T. Still University of Health on a side-by-side comparison of UpToDate and ClinicalKey. The survey study was completed by 23 faculty members and 292 students from two osteopathic schools of medicine and a physician assistant program.

  • UpToDate scored higher than ClinicalKey on overall satisfaction, particularly by those in clinical rotation or teaching in the clinic who strongly preferred UpToDate.
  • UpToDate was strongly favored for ease of use, efficiency in answering specific questions, organization and depth.
  • UpToDate was the preferred choice by a large margin if the library could only purchase one product.
  • Respondents reported that Clinical key was valued for its library of full texts by those in the didactic or classroom phase of training, but that its use as a point-of-care tool was limited.

Study authors conclude that UpToDate was preferred in the clinical setting. They further concluded that "not only was it heavily used in the clinical setting," but that respondents reported students "were at a competitive disadvantage if they did not have access to it."

The authors noted that ClinicalKey, in advance marketing "implied its use as a point-of-care product for physicians." However, the authors conclude that ClinicalKey's "use as a point-of-care product was limited by the fact that the survey respondents did not find First Consult, which represents the major point-of-care content in ClinicalKey, to be at all comparable to UpToDate."