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Title An Evaluation of Information-Seeking Behaviors of General Pediatricians
Author(s) Donna M. D’Alessandro, MD, Clarence D. Kreiter, PhD and Michael W. Peterson, MD
Source Pediatrics, Vol. 113, No. 1, Pages 64-69
Publication Date Jan. 2004
Abstract Objective. Usage of computer resources at the point of care has a positive effect on physician decision making. Pediatricians’ information-seeking behaviors are not well characterized. The goal of this study was to characterize quantitatively the information-seeking behaviors of general pediatricians and specifically compare their use of computers, including digital libraries, before and after an educational intervention. Methods. General pediatric residents and faculty at a US Midwest children’s hospital participated. A control (year 1) versus intervention group (year 2) research design was implemented. Eligible pediatrician pools overlapped, such that some participated first in the control group and later as part of the intervention. The intervention group received a 10-minute individual training session and handout on how to use a pediatric digital library to answer professional questions. A general medical digital library was also available. Pediatricians in both the control and the intervention groups were surveyed using the critical incident technique during 2 6-month time periods. Both groups were telephoned for 1- to 2-minute interviews and were asked, "What pediatric question(s) did you have that you needed additional information to answer?" The main outcome measures were the differences between the proportion of pediatricians who use computers and digital libraries and a comparison of the number of times that pediatricians use these resources before and after intervention. Results. A total of 58 pediatricians were eligible, and 52 participated (89.6%). Participant demographics between control (N = 41; 89.1%) and intervention (N = 31; 70.4%) were not statistically different. Twenty pediatricians were in both groups. Pediatricians were slightly less likely to pursue answers after the intervention (94.7% vs 89.2%); the primary reason cited for both groups was a lack of time. The pediatricians were as successful in finding answers in each group (95.7% vs 92.7%), but the intervention group took significantly less time (8.3 minutes vs 19.6 minutes). After the intervention, pediatricians used computers and digital libraries more to answer their questions and spent less time using them. Conclusion. This study showed higher rates of physician questions pursued and answered and higher rates of computer use at baseline and after intervention compared with previous studies. Pediatricians who seek answers at the point of care therefore should begin to shift their information-seeking behaviors toward computer resources, as they are as effective but more time-efficient.

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