Lifelong self-directed learning using a computer database of clinical questions

J Fam Pract. 1997 Nov;45(5):382-8.


Physicians often have self-perceived knowledge gaps when they are seeing patients. Traditional continuing medical education is designed to meet the knowledge gaps of groups rather than individual physicians with specific patient problems. Physicians with clinical information needs are advised to critically evaluate high-quality original research in order to practice "evidence-based medicine." But this advice may be unrealistic for busy clinicians. We propose a system for documenting self-perceived information needs using a computer database. Concise answers to these needs are included in the database along with reference citations supporting the answers. The system tracks continuing education efforts, directs patient care decisions, and focuses lifelong learning on relevant topics. We emphasize the importance of being sensitive to personal information needs and the benefits of maintaining a record of these needs.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Medicine*
  • Computers
  • Databases as Topic*
  • Documentation
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • Family Practice*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval*
  • Learning
  • Physicians, Family