How physicians perceive and utilize information from a teratogen information service: The Motherisk Program
QUESTIONS UNDER STUDY To investigate the utilisation of the Internet by primary care physicians for medical purposes during their daily practice, and to clarify the reasons for use or non-use of this technology. METHODS Cross-sectional postal survey in German-speaking Switzerland employing a purpose-designed pre-validated 69-item questionnaire. A random sample of 2009 primary care physicians participated in the investigation. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Number of primary care physicians with access to the Internet; reasons for using the Internet during consultations; sources of information in solving medical problems arising from concurrent patient care. RESULTS 55% of the physicians returned the completed questionnaire. 75% of respondents reported access to the Internet. Only 7% use the Internet during patient consultations. The main reasons for not using the Internet were time pressure and concerns about potential negative interaction with physician-patient communication. To solve patient-specific problems arising during daily practice, 59% of the practitioners consult text-books or colleagues. Only 14% of respondents report regularly finding useful information on the Internet. Internet users assess information quality by checking on authorship, institution, publishing company, or whether the information is sponsored by a third party with a potential conflict of interest. CONCLUSIONS Access to the Internet is widespread amongst German-speaking Swiss primary care physicians. Only a small minority use the Internet for information retrieval during consultation hours. Electronic information systems need to be tailored to the needs of primary care physicians.