Smartphone use and acceptability among clinical medical students: a questionnaire-based study

J Med Syst. 2013 Jun;37(3):9936. doi: 10.1007/s10916-013-9936-5. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


Smartphones are becoming increasingly common in both personal and professional spheres. These devices have many features which can be successfully harnessed in healthcare, including rapid access to information, instant communication and improved organisation. In particular, the smartphone's potential as an educational tool is an area which is starting to gain recognition, with a number of institutions providing the device to medical students. However, before more universities follow suit, a better understanding of students' ownership, usage and attitudes relating to smartphones is required. We therefore distributed a questionnaire to clinical medical students at the University of Birmingham, UK, which aimed to fill these gaps in knowledge. Data were obtained from 361 participants, representing a response rate of 32%. Fifty-nine per cent of students owned a smartphone; 37% of these reported using the device to support their learning. Generally students were positive towards the concept of smartphones as future educational aids, with 84% believing the devices would be useful or very useful. However, 64% thought smartphones would be too costly to implement and 62% felt such technology was not in the medical school's interest. Themes which emerged upon analysis of free text supported general findings, with students also mentioning issues such as potential for unprofessional behaviour and dependence upon smartphones. In conclusion, it appears most medical students believe a smartphone would be a useful addition to their education, although financial barriers must be overcome before the device is more universally accepted.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Smartphone*
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires