Objective: To determine the awareness and use of the Cochrane Library and access to the Internet by general practitioners in New South Wales.
Design: Cross-sectional postal survey in September 1997.
Participants: 311 of 428 (73% response rate) randomly selected general practitioners in New South Wales.
Main outcome measures: Proportion of respondents with access to the Internet at home or at work; proportion of respondents aware of, with access to, and ever using the Cochrane Library; independent predictors of awareness of the Cochrane Library.
Results: 134 respondents (43%) had access to the Internet either at home or at work; 42 (14%) were "on line" at their workplace. Seventy (22%) were aware of the Cochrane Library, although only 20 (6%) had access to it and 13 (4%) had ever used it. Those in group practice and members of Divisions were independently more likely to be aware of the Cochrane Library.
Conclusions: As patient outcomes will improve with systematic implementation of evidence-based treatments, these low rates of access to useful evidence databases raise issues regarding the best ways to support general practitioners with information technology.