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Is there sufficient evidence available to guide mental health care? That was a question often asked when this journal, Evidence-Based Mental Health, took on the formidable task of providing summaries of the best available research that was relevant to clinicians. As the journal enters its 10th year it seems clear that, although often difficult to find, there is an abundance of evidence out there and EBMH fulfils an important role in identifying findings that are reliable and clinically useful. The success of the journal is a reflection of the continuing demand for rapid access to high quality evidence from its readers. It is also in no small part due to the dedicated supervision of the editors: John Geddes, David Streiner, Peter Szatmari and Graham Towl, who after many years in the saddle have decided to hand over the reins to a new editorial team. As well as clinical expertise in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, and pharmacy the new editors—listed on the inside front cover of this issue (see http://ebmh.bmj.com/info/about.dtl)—all have a keen interest in the development of evidence-based practice.
The editorial team may have changed but the purpose of EBMH remains the same. That is, to help the clinician keep up to date with the best clinically relevant research in the field of mental health. The importance of keeping up to date with recent advances is self-evident but is becoming increasingly difficult with the exponential rise in published medical research. Psychiatrists report that the greatest barrier to practising evidence-based psychiatry is the time required to search and appraise the literature.1 This is hardly surprising with over 5000 titles indexed on PubMed.2 The usefulness of much new research is questionable, and one could argue that we now have too much evidence, compiled with varying degrees of scientific rigour and opinion, resulting in confusing messages. The challenge in identifying valid and clinically relevant evidence is demonstrated by Paul Glasziou, editor of our sister journal, Evidence-Based Medicine, who calculated that only 1 in 400 of the articles they scan pass their quality criteria.3 This journal uses a similar approach (see Purpose and procedure, p 2). However, it remains the case that a considerable gap exists between research and practice in many areas of mental health care. A frequently voiced criticism is that evidence-based practice is the preserve of academics who are divorced from practical reality. I would disagree, as providing evidence upon which to base practice meets a real clinical need. Translating research evidence into clinical practice is not easy however, and there are conflicting opinions about what constitutes “good quality” evidence and how such evidence should be implemented. Evidence-Based Mental Health provides a forum for this important debate and we welcome your contributions to it in these pages.
Presenting summaries of research with an accompanying commentary will continue to be the core business of EBMH but as with any evolving publication, change is inevitable. A significant development has been the introduction of EBMHOnline and since 2001 there has been a gradual shift with the majority of readers now gaining access to the journal via the worldwide web. Currently EBMH Online offers extra content supplementary to the abstracts placed in the paper journal and we will be working with study authors to bring you additional detail, particularly of new interventions. We are also restructuring the browsing facility so that if you are interested in a particular topic, the back issues of EBMH will provide a summary of key studies. In coming months we will discuss more new developments and you may also notice some changes in the look of the journal. We would encourage you to send us feedback on how the journal is being used and how we might enhance its utility. A variety of evidence-based healthcare resources are now available to clinicians, but there remains a need for a publication that provides access to the best available evidence for mental health professionals. I believe that this journal addresses that need and I hope you will agree.
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