NEJM Journal Watch Keeps an Eye on What’s Happening in the World of Medicine
It’s a common lament among physicians: Keeping up with the vast volume of medical studies and news, drug information, public health alerts, and new clinical guidelines is nearly impossible.
January 23, 2019
NEJM Journal Watch makes it a lot easier.
Created in 1987, NEJM Journal Watch is a family of literature surveillance publications organized into 11 specialties and 19 topic areas (see lists below). A group of physician-editors regularly survey more than 250 journals to identify the highest quality and most relevant studies for practicing physicians. They summarize the key findings in synopses of approximately 200 words and add commentary to put the new knowledge into clinical context, answering questions such as: How significant are the findings? Should physicians change their clinical practice as a result? Are further studies needed? NEJM Journal Watch physician-editors are leaders in their fields — academics who are practicing clinicians as well.
NEJM Journal Watch creator Joe Elia said he first began thinking about the idea of surveilling medical journals back in the 1970s, while spending a lot of time in the stacks of a Boston library. He was new to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), charged with checking the bibliographic references in articles slated for publication. “I discovered all these interesting journals that were not NEJM — and thought that there were a lot of important articles clinicians should know about,” recalled Elia, who today is the editorial development director of NEJM Group’s Clinical Programs. “I filed this in the back of my mind and more than a decade later, when the publisher was looking for some new ideas for publications, I came up with the idea of reviewing the most important journals and doing brief summaries.” In their earliest incarnation, the summaries were written by non-physicians and edited by doctors. But it soon became clear that physicians brought invaluable expertise to the process, so they started drafting the summaries as well.
NEJM Journal Watch subscribers can access all the content online, regardless of specialty or topic, or in a print newsletter, the latter published twice a month for general medicine and monthly for specialties. The NEJM Journal Watch website publishes summaries continuously, and readers can sign up for regular alerts with links to new content.
More specialties and topic areas were added as the years progressed, as well as additional NEJM Journal Watch offerings. They include:
- Guideline Watch: NEJM Journal Watch physician-editors summarize new clinical guidelines for different specialties and comment about how the guideline may play out in clinical practice. At least once a year, subscribers can download a compilation of the new clinical guidelines most likely to affect their practice.
- Clinical Spotlight: Longer than NEJM Journal Watch summaries, these articles are written by physician experts and focus on clinical controversies. Recent Clinical Spotlights have outlined potential problems with the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a drug for a new indication; questioned new guidelines for treating cases of suspected sepsis, and argued the pros and cons of physician-assisted suicide.
- Physician’s First Watch: A daily e-newsletter that summarizes the most recent medical news from various sources, including journals, non-scholarly publications, blogs, and other sources.
- NEJM Journal Watch Medical Blogs: HIV and ID Observations is written by Paul Sax, MD, clinical director of the HIV program and division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Insights on Residency Training is authored by a rotating cast of residents from across the country and around the world. Finally, Clinical Conversations, hosted by Elia, is an interview-style podcast featuring medical topics that have been in the news. Elia recently talked with authors of a study showing no clinically significant variation in outcomes among diabetic patients managed by physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, and with the author of a BMJ editorial advocating for the use of preprint platforms that allow authors to submit studies for review by other researchers pre-peer review.
Finally, subscribers to NEJM Journal Watch General Medicine can participate in a continuing medical education program that offers exams on NEJM Journal Watch content twice a year.
Elia stresses that literature surveillance still plays an important role today. “It allows you to keep apprised of the most relevant studies without requiring you to sit down and read a big stack of journals every night,” said Elia.
With a JWatch.org site license subscription, you will have access to all 11 specialties in one place, even on the go. Libraries can purchase a site license subscription for their institution by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to find out more about the benefits of a site license.
NEJM Journal Watch Specialties
- Emergency Medicine
- General Medicine
- Hospital Medicine
- Infectious Diseases
- Oncology and Hematology
- Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
- Women’s Health
NEJM Journal Watch Topics
- Arthritis/Rheumatic Disease
- Breast Cancer
- GERD/Peptic Ulcers
- Lipid Management
- Osteoporosis/Bone Disease
- Pediatric Infections
- Respiratory Infections
- Substance Abuse