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Study Shows Medical Residents Use Google for Point-of-care Decisions

Naureen Nayyar

In January 2012, an electronic 14-question survey on resources used for real-time clinical decision making was sent to 299 residents from three internal medicine residencies regarding resources used for point-of-care (POC) decision making: 77 residents at the University of Minnesota Medical School, 51 residents from Oregon Health & Sciences University School of Medicine, and 26 residents from Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Out of the the 299, 167 (56%) responded to the survey, out of which 87% of the 167 owned smartphones. The study was conducted by four researchers from University of Minnesota Medical School.

The findings were used to conclude that the use of Google and other web 2.0 sites (such as wikipedia and facebook), and electronic resources such as UptoDate and Pubmed were preferred by a majority of the users. Also, the study concluded that residents should be trained around information management and knowing when to delve deeper into the actual source for the information that was found.

Here is passage of the results specifically related to the findings around the use of Google:

When asked whether they are more likely to use the Google general search engine or use Google Scholar for POC decision making, 106 respondents (68%) indicated they use the Google general search engine, with 41 (30%) indicating Google Scholar. When asked how often their Google search results in an answer to their POC question, 66 respondents (43%) answered “often,” 62 (40%) answered “sometimes,” and 3 (2%) answered “always” or “never.”When asked to compare the kinds of questions they think the Google general search engine and Google Scholar are effective in answering, many respondents indicated they find the Google general search engine effective for “searching for a trusted Web site I have used before” (114 respondents; 75%) and “searching for general information about a topic/disease from any resource” (109 respondents; 71%). They indicated they used Google Scholar more frequently than the general search engine for “searching for diagnostic strategies in a journal” (66; 44%), “searching for the most current treatment in a journal” (64; 42%), and “search for a specific paper I have seen before” (58; 38%). Several residents reported that they were unfamiliar with Google Scholar as a resource.

Link to the study:

Article in PreMedLife: