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Should We Google It? Resource Use by Internal Medicine Residents for Point-of-Care Clinical Decision Making

Duran-Nelson, Alisa MD; Gladding, Sophia PhD; Beattie, Jim MLIS; Nixon, L. James MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828ffdb7
Research Reports

Purpose: To determine which resources residents use at the point-of-care (POC) for decision making, the drivers for selection of these resources, and how residents use Google/Google Scholar to answer clinical questions at the POC.

Method: In January 2012, 299 residents from three internal medicine residencies were sent an electronic survey regarding resources used for POC decision making. Resource use frequency and factors influencing choice were determined using descriptive statistics. Binary logistic regression analysis was performed to determine relationships between the independent variables.

Results: A total of 167 residents (56%) responded; similar numbers responded at each level of training. Residents most frequently reported using UpToDate and Google at the POC at least daily (85% and 63%, respectively), with speed and trust in the quality of information being the primary drivers of selection. Google, used by 68% of residents, was used primarily to locate Web sites and general information about diseases, whereas Google Scholar, used by 30% of residents, tended to be used for treatment and management decisions or locating a journal article.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that internal medicine residents use UpToDate most frequently, followed by consultation with faculty and the search engines Google and Google Scholar; speed, trust, and portability are the biggest drivers for resource selection; and time and information overload appear to be the biggest barriers to resources such as Ovid MEDLINE. Residents frequently used Google and may benefit from further training in information management skills.

Dr. Duran-Nelson is assistant professor, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Dr. Gladding is PhD educator and assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Mr. Beattie is associate librarian, Health Sciences Libraries, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Dr. Nixon is associate professor of medicine and pediatrics, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

First published online April 24, 2013

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Duran-Nelson, 420 Delaware St., SE, MMC 284, Minneapolis, MN 55455; telephone: (612) 626-4603; fax: (612) 625-3238; e-mail: duran012@umn.edu.

© 2013 Association of American Medical Colleges