Information overload within the health care system: a literature review

Health Info Libr J. 2004 Jun;21(2):102-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2004.00506.x.


There is a widespread view held by health clinicians that their work effectiveness is impaired by 'information overload.' Building upon a previous work by Wilson, a review of the literature was undertaken to look for the evidence of this. It was found that the literature, particularly in the context of the clinical environment, was limited. This review explores the diverse overarching theories of information overload, effects of the phenomenon that are perceived to occur and proposed solutions to this problem. Many of the papers noted an information explosion but only three authors explicitly attempted to measure both the quantity and the complexity of this information. It was also found that the typology of the information studied was severely limited with most studies exploring information such as guidelines, access to journals, research findings and other knowledge intensive areas. Solutions proposed seem to concentrate on technological means rather than exploring the use of humans either in management of information or as a step in the filtering process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Medical Informatics
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Workload / psychology*