It sometimes seems that the one constant in life is change. However, it has become more evident that change is not a constant—it is increasing rapidly. In a recent book, the Captain of Moonshots (yes, this is the official title) at Google X was quoted as showing how the rate of change has been increasing exponentially. For centuries, change was very slow, but now the rate of change seems to be increasing straight up, to the extent that society cannot currently adapt to changes quickly enough.1
Change has happened rapidly in this book. In the first edition, there were only two pages about the World Wide Web, which was very new at that point. The reason for such little information was that there was nearly no information on the topic. The number of useful websites for medical information could easily be counted on one hand. By the second edition, there was enough information to have a whole chapter on the topic. Of course, since then, the use of information sources on the Internet has exploded and permeates the whole book. Many other changes have been seen, and the book has grown to be more than twice as long as the first edition with 50% more chapters.
Change continues to happen in the book. Perhaps the most obvious upon picking up the book is the change in editors. While one of the original editors left after the second edition, the other three have remained until now. However, John Stanovich and Karen Kier have retired from editing the book. We wish them a long and enjoyable retirement. In recognition of the previous editors, an editor emeritus page has been added to the book, starting with this edition. John had brought on Meghan Malone as his replacement, starting with the fifth edition. Sharon Park has now been added to this edition—welcome Sharon!
One constant in the book has been that it was originally written to provide training in drug information management. It has been tested and refined continuously, based on experience in both practice and the classroom. In this sixth edition, the goal of this book continues to be to educate both students and practitioners on how to efficiently research, interpret, evaluate, collate, and disseminate information in the most usable form. While there is no one right method to perform these professional responsibilities, proven methods are presented and demonstrated. Also, seldom-addressed issues are covered, such as the legal and ethical considerations of providing drug information.
However, other significant changes have been made to the sixth edition that allow it to continue to expand, updating information from previous editions, and go into new areas. This includes new chapters on journal clubs and counterfeit drugs/drugs shortages. In addition, the chapter on Policy Development, Project Design and Implementation from the fifth edition has been expanded to be two separate chapters.
As in the past, the book begins by introducing the concept of drug information, including its history, and providing information on various places drug information specialists may be employed. This is followed by information on how to answer a question, from the process of gathering necessary background information, through determining the actual information need, to answering the question. The chapter on drug information resources includes descriptions of the most commonly used references and contains information on apps available for practitioners. The drug literature evaluation chapters have been updated and expanded to cover newer concepts, such as adaptive clinical trials. Chapters from the previous edition have been updated and rearranged in a way to make the subjects flow better. As always, numerous practical examples are provided through the chapters and in the appendices. As with the previous edition, the following features are provided:
A series of Key Concepts at the beginning of each chapter are then identified throughout the chapter using circled numbers placed within the text.
The main areas outlined in the Learning Objectives have been highlighted throughout the chapter using vertical rules placed in the margins alongside the relevant passages of text.
Most chapters have cases, where a situation that might be faced by a practitioner is described, with a series of discussion points presented.
A series of multiple-choice questions are included and many chapters provide suggested readings for further information on topics.
With the veritable Niagara Falls of drug, medical, and pharmacy information available, much of which is complex, health care professionals have an increasing need for information management skills. This book will assist health care professionals and students with improvement in drug information skills and allow individuals to evolve into new roles for the advancement of the profession and patient care. The authors and editors of this book hope the readers enjoy their journey toward expertise in drug information management.