Information-seeking behaviors of practitioners in a primary care practice-based research network (PBRN)

J Med Libr Assoc. 2005 Apr;93(2):206-12.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the information-seeking behaviors (e.g., information resource usage patterns, access to types of sources and to medical libraries, and use of particular information technologies) of members in a primary care practice-based research network (PBRN) to inform future efforts supporting primary care practitioners in their daily care of patients.

Methods: Every primary care practitioner who was a member of the Kentucky Ambulatory Network-including family practitioners, general practitioners, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants-was surveyed. The cross-sectional survey included twenty-six questions to investigate the information-seeking behavior of primary care practitioners.

Results: The response rate was 51% (59 of 116). Most practitioners (58%) stated they sought information to support patient care several times per week, and most (68%) noted they do this while the patient waited. Many practitioners (40%) never or almost never perform literature searches from online sources such as MEDLINE, although 44% said they did so a few times per month. A significant correlation between use of online sources and use of print sources suggests that those who seek online information more frequently than those who do not also seek information from print sources frequently, and vice versa. Access to medical libraries was also reported as high.

Conclusions: Consistent with previous studies, the primary care practitioners in this rural PBRN reported more frequent use of print and interpersonal sources compared to online sources. There appeared to be, however, a clear difference between those practitioners who are more likely to seek information, regardless of format, and those who are less inclined. Future interventions will need to address such barriers as time, cost, and information-seeking skills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Kentucky
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician's Role
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Health Services / standards*
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires