Health care workers in Africa access a broad range of topics using evidence-based online medical information

Glob Public Health. 2012;7(8):823-39. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2012.685488. Epub 2012 May 23.


Health care workers (HCW) rely on Internet-based medical resources to obtain current evidence-based clinical guidelines. While such resources are being used with increasing frequency in developed countries, they have not been broadly employed in resource-limited settings (RLS). To investigate the feasibility and the types of medical content used by HCW in RLS, we studied one Internet-based medical resource used in the United States, (UpToDate©) in four hospitals in Africa. Health care workers were trained on how to use this resource and surveyed over a six month study period. Automated topic tracking found that HCW searched a variety of medical topics. About 78% of HCW reported daily or weekly use of the Internet-based medical resource and 70% felt the tool was very useful for teaching. All users report the tool increased their clinical knowledge. This descriptive study suggests that Internet-based medical information resources are feasible in RLS and are accessed for a broad variety of medical topics. Supplemental content providing guidance when minimal diagnostic and therapeutic options exist could increase its relevance in RLS. With increased availability, Internet-based medical information could enhance current global health care initiatives to improve providers' knowledge, clinical practice and potentially patient outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Africa
  • Decision Making
  • Developing Countries
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Health Information Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Personnel, Hospital*