The information needs and information seeking behaviour of family doctors

Health Info Libr J. 2004 Jun;21(2):84-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2004.00490.x.


Aims: To explore the information needs and information seeking behaviour of family doctors, identifying any differences in attitudes and behaviours deriving from membership of a training practice and investigating the impact of a practice librarian.

Methods: A case study of general practitioners (GPs) in Aylesbury Vale incorporated a quantitative study of use of the medical library, and two qualitative techniques, in-depth interviews and group discussions.

Results: A total of 58 GPs, almost three quarters of those in the Vale, participated; 19 via individual interviews and a further 39 via two group discussions. Family doctors are prompted to seek information by needs arising from a combination of professional responsibilities and personal characteristics. A need for problem-orientated information, related to the care of individual patients, was the predominant factor that prompted these GPs to seek information. Personal collections remain the preferred information resource; electronic sources rank second. The study demonstrated low use of the medical library. However, both vocational training and the employment of a practice librarian impacted on library use.

Conclusions: The study illuminates the information needs and preferences of GPs and illustrates the contribution that librarians may make at practice level, indicating the importance of outreach work.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Humans
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Librarians*
  • Libraries, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • United Kingdom