Characterizing physicians’ information needs at the point of care

Bianca M. R. Kramer
Bridget C. O’Brien
David Irby
Edith ter Braak
Feikje van Stiphout
Keith Posley
Laura L. Moorhead
Lauren A. Maggio
Olle ten Cate
Soort article
Original Research
Evidence-based medicine,
Information storage and retrieval,
Internal medicine,
Medical education,
Qualitative research,
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Physicians have many information needs that arise at the point of care yet go unmet for a variety of reasons, including uncertainty about which information resources to select. In this study, we aimed to identify the various types of physician information needs and how these needs relate to physicians’ use of the database PubMed and the evidence summary tool UpToDate. We conducted semi-structured interviews with physicians (Stanford University, United States; n = 13; and University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands; n = 9), eliciting participants’ descriptions of their information needs and related use of PubMed and/or UpToDate. Using thematic analysis, we identified six information needs: refreshing, confirming, logistics, teaching, idea generating and personal learning. Participants from both institutions similarly described their information needs and selection of resources. The identification of these six information needs and their relation to PubMed and UpToDate expands upon previously identified physician information needs and may be useful to medical educators designing evidence-based practice training for physicians.


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