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Use of MEDLINE by physicians for clinical problem solving



Use of MEDLINE by physicians for clinical problem solving



JAMA 269(24): 3124-3129



Objective.-To understand the ways in which computer-mediated searching of the biomedical literature affects patient care and other professional activities. Undertaken to determine the ways in which on-line access to the biomedical literature via the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE database "makes a difference" in what physicians do when confronted with a medical problem requiring new or additional information. Design.-An adaptation of the Critical Incident Technique used to gather detailed reports of MEDLINE search results that were especially helpful (or not helpful) in carrying out the individual's professional activities. The individual physician was the source of the patient care incident reports. One thousand one hundred fifty-eight reports were systematically analyzed from three different perspectives: (1) why the information was sought; (2) the effect of having (or not having) the needed information on professional decisions and actions; and (3) the outcome of the search. Participants and Setting.-Telephone interviews were carried out with a purposive sample of 552 physicians, scientists, and other professionals working in a variety of clinical care and other settings. Of these, 65% were direct users of MEDLINE throughout the United States, and 35% had MEDLINE searches conducted for them either at a major health sciences center or in community hospitals. Results.-Three comprehensive and detailed inventories that describe the motivation for the searches, how search results affected the actions and decisions of the individual who initiated the search, and how they affected the outcome of the situation that motivated the search. Conclusions.-MEDLINE searches are being carried out by and for physicians to meet a wide diversity of clinical information needs. Physicians report that in situations involving individual patients, rapid access to the biomedical literature via MEDLINE is at times critical to sound patient care and favorably influences patient outcomes.

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Accession: 009702588

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 8505815

DOI: 10.1001/jama.1993.03500240068028


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