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  • Explain the purpose of journal clubs

  • Describe the general format of a journal club

  • Examine characteristics of an effective journal club

  • Discuss common evaluation tools used in journal clubs


  • CATmaker software

  • Critical appraisal

  • Critical appraisal tools

  • Journal club


Journal clubs are valuable to clinicians to keep up with medical literature especially with the advent of evidence-based practices. Although journal clubs have become popular in pharmacy education in the last two decades, they have been in practice for more than a century. Historical accounts give credit to Sir William Osler for the origin of journal clubs in 1875.1,2 Sir Osler established the first journal club at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, due to economic restraints that prohibited many physicians from purchasing books and periodicals for their personal use. However, it has also been documented that the phrase “journal club” may have been coined earlier by Sir James Paget while at the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in 1835–1854.1,3 Sir James noted that medical students would meet in a room over a baker’s shop to read journals and formed a group, or club, in doing so. Some early goals of journal clubs included introducing junior staff to a systematic process of using medical literature and allowing more senior staff to survey the literature. In 1966, Mattingly published an article discussing journal clubs and wrote about the various formats and logistics that surround journal clubs, such as the benefit of food, meeting frequency, and number of articles to review.4

Journal clubs are now common in medical and health education training programs. In pharmacy, journal clubs are used in the academic and practice settings to develop and enhance critical skills for patient care. Pharmacists are often asked for recommendations regarding medications. In order to make sound and unbiased suggestions, knowing the literature and properly interpreting it is a necessary skill. When making these recommendations, pharmacists need to not only know how the drugs differ in efficacy, but also how they differ in dosing, adverse effects, and pharmacokinetics to make the best recommendation for an individual patient. This chapter will explore the purpose of journal clubs, the format and logistics of these clubs, and the characteristics of effective journal clubs.


In a journal club, a group of participants who have common practice or research interests meet regularly for a defined pedagogical purpose. The club often discusses current research articles and the appropriateness of the study design, the data analysis, the conclusions drawn, and the potential applications or implications of the research to practice and patient care. In pharmacy, these clubs allow pharmacists to understand the current drug research to help make evidence-based recommendations. The goals of journal clubs in education and ...

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