Promoting GP use of the Internet for evidence based practice: evaluation of an educational program

Debbie Zaks, Peter Schattner, Britt Klein

Abstract


Objectives: To evaluate the impact and acceptability of a training program on effective internet use for general practitioners (GPs). Methods: The training program entitled Chaos to Clarity was developed and piloted in 2005 and was designed to improve GP use of the internet for the purposes of gathering valid and clinically useful medical information. It involved a single session of 45-60 minutes conducted at the GP’s practice, and covered information management skills, search skills, structuring clinical questions, navigating through a selection of reputable clinical databases, and case studies. Thirty three GPs were recruited via three divisions of general practice in Melbourne following invitations via telephone calls, emails and newsletter advertisements. Three project officers were trained in delivering the program which was evaluated quantitatively through pre- and post-program surveys. Qualitative evaluation was also undertaken using semi-structured telephone interviews with 10 GPs and face-to-face interviews with the project officers. Results: Significant pre- to post-program differences were found for GPs’ knowledge about pre-appraised evidence-based medicine resources, frequency of use of the internet for clinical purposes, search skills and confidence, and perceived competence in using clinical databases. Favourable attitudes towards using of the internet to obtain clinical information were also reported by GPs. Qualitative data indicated that GPs were more likely to put the training into practice outside consultation times (rather than during consultation) as clinical searches take too long and can detract from doctor/patient rapport. GPs reported that they mainly use the internet to access patient education information, and to perform occasional quick searches for unfamiliar medications or illnesses. Conclusions: Training in efficient use of the internet can increase GP knowledge, skill and interest in using the internet to find evidence-based clinical information.

Keywords


Internet; Continuing Professional Development; Evidence Based Medicine

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= = = eJHI - electronic Journal of Health Informatics - ISSN 1446-4381 = = =

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