The information-seeking behaviour of doctors: a review of the evidence

Health Info Libr J. 2007 Jun;24(2):78-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00713.x.


This paper provides a narrative review of the available literature from the past 10 years (1996-2006) that focus on the information seeking behaviour of doctors. The review considers the literature in three sub-themes: Theme 1, the Information Needs of Doctors includes information need, frequency of doctors' questions and types of information needs; Theme 2, Information Seeking by Doctors embraces pattern of information resource use, time spent searching, barriers to information searching and information searching skills; Theme 3, Information Sources Utilized by Doctors comprises the number of sources utilized, comparison of information sources consulted, computer usage, ranking of information resources, printed resource use, personal digital assistant (PDA) use, electronic database use and the Internet. The review is wide ranging. It would seem that the traditional methods of face-to-face communication and use of hard-copy evidence still prevail amongst qualified medical staff in the clinical setting. The use of new technologies embracing the new digital age in information provision may influence this in the future. However, for now, it would seem that there is still research to be undertaken to uncover the most effective methods of encouraging clinicians to use the best evidence in everyday practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Computers*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods
  • Inservice Training / methods
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Planning / organization & administration
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional Role
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom