Primary care physicians and their information-seeking behaviour

Scand J Prim Health Care. 2000 Mar;18(1):9-13. doi: 10.1080/02813430050202488.


Objective: To investigate primary care physicians' continuing medical education (CME) and their information-seeking behaviour and to compare it with that of hospital doctors

Design: Postal survey of Norwegian physicians.

Subjects: 1276 physicians (response rate 78%), 283 primary care physicians, 741 hospital doctors.

Main outcome measures: Self-perceived ability to cope with medical knowledge and self-reported CME activities.

Results: Two out of three doctors thought they could cope with the increasing flow of medical information. Courses, meetings and congresses were considered the most important CME activities. Primary care physicians spent less than 3 hours per week on medical reading, compared with more than 4.5 hours among hospital doctors; 59% of primary care physicians had access to the Internet compared with 76% among hospital doctors. Time spent on medical reading and formalized courses decreased from 1993 to 1999 for all groups of physicians.

Conclusion: Primary care physicians rely on several information sources in their professional updating. They pay less attention to informal ways of learning than their hospital colleagues do.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / trends
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Family / psychology
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires