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Library Philosophy and Practice 2008

ISSN 1522-0222

Computer and Internet Use by Health Care Professionals in a Rural Medical College in India

Dr Mayank Trivedi
University Librarian
Sardar Patel University
Vallabhvidyanagar-388120, Gujarat, India

Dr Anuradha Joshi
Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology
Pramukhswami Medical College
Karamsad-388325, Gujarat, India

 

Introduction

The use of computers and the Internet by people in all walks of life increases day by day. The Internet plays a crucial role in access to information resources. Edward and Bruce (2002) observe that, "sources of information and other opportunities available via the Internet are increasing exponentially. This is reflected in the steady increase in the use of computers and the Internet in teaching and learning. The evolving nature of medical knowledge and technology requires medical students to develop computer skills (Tillman 2003).

Material and Methods

This cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted June 2007 to August 2007 among faculty at Pramukhswami Medical College (PSMC) and Shree Krishna Hospital (SKH) of H M Patel Centre for Medical Care, Education, and Research (HMPCER), Karamsad, Gujarat, India. Those surveyed included a total of 194 health care professionals (116 male, 78 female). A printed questionnaire sought information about formal computer training, use of computer, and use of Internet search engines. Questionnaires were distributed to faculty in their respective departments.

The data was analyzed using the following parameters:

  • Use of computer
  • Computer knowledge
  • Formal training
  • Role of the library in graduate teaching and research

Results

Table I

Participant gender and rank

Designation Male Female Total
Professor 10 17 27
Additional Professor 20 05 07
Associate Professor 09 09 18
Assistant Professor 22 19 41
Tutor 12 12 24
Resident 61 16 77
Total 116 78 194
Table II

Computer knowledge

Proficiency Professor Additional Professor Associate Professor Assistant Professor Tutor Resident Total
NC -- -- -- 1 0 1 02 (1.03%)
JC 1 06 07 29 16 53 124 (63.91%)
WC 04 01 11 11 09 20 56(28.86%)
Total 05 07 18 41 25 74 182(92.77%)

NC: "Not Conversant"

JC: "Just Conversant"

WC: "Well Conversant"

Table III

Formal training

Professional Skills Professor Additional Professor Associate Professor Assistant Professor Tutor Resident Total
Trained 12 02 02 11 02 07 36
Not trained 05 05 06 13 23 69 148
Table IV

Use of computer for academic requirements

Mode of Use Professor Additional Professor Associate Professor Assistant Professor Tutor Resident Total
Teaching 17 06 18 36 21 54 15.2 (78.35%)
Dissertation -- 01 03 00 01 07 12 (6.18%)
General knowledge 16 05 14 23 17 28 103 (53.09%)
E-mail/chatting 00 00 00 02 02 03 07 (3.60%)
Communication 09 05 08 20 15 27 84 (43.29%)
Table V

Use of search engines

Search Engine Professor Additional Professor Associate Professor Assistant Professor Tutor Resident Total
Yahoo 01 -- 00 35 20 59 115
Google 02 01 03 37 23 70 83
Both 14 05 14 34 21 57 145

Discussion

The survey found that while computer use was high at the two institutions, computers were being used by clerical staff for writing official letters, rather than being used by health care professionals for academic purposes.

More than three-fifths of respondents said their level of computer literacy level was "just conversant," with nearly 30 percent "well conversant." The fact that more than 90 percent have some level of computer knowledge is comparable to the 98 percent of physicians at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School (Parekh, Nazarian, Lim 2004), and 96 percent of medical and dental students in a Nigerian teaching hospital (Ajuwon 2004)

While most respondents had some computer knowledge, more than three quarters had no formal comoputer training. A 2004 study by Banga and Padda found that more than 95 percent of health professionals surveyed desired formal training.

The respondents use computers to access online journals, teaching materials, and dissertations, as well as for communication through e-mail and other tools, which is aligned with the findings of Asemi (2005) and Ajuwon (2004). Overall, teaching was the primary purpose (78.35%), i.e., for obtaining health information for students and patient care. Ajuwon (2006) found that 90 percent of respondents sought health information for academic purposes.

Conclusion

This study looks at the use of computers by health care professionals and found that the use was limited to tasks like looking for information for teaching or patient care, which is congruent with the findings of Inamdar and Rotti (2004).

The study reveals the need for formal training for all levels of staff. Library professionals on campus can take the initiative to improve and expand Internet searching and use. Librarians might prepare a list of subject websites, data useful to researchers, link to free online databases, and so on, and place them on the library website. As discussed by Blumberg and Sparks (1999), an information literacy program provided by the library is also crucial to expand the knowledge and activities of faculty and students.

References

Ajuwon, G.A. (2004). Use of computer and the Internet in a Nigerian teaching hospital.Journal of Hospital Librarianship 4:73-88.

Ajuwon, G.A. (2006). Use of Internet for health information by physicians for patient care in a teaching hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria. Biomedical Digital Libraries 3:12 http://www.bio-digilib.com/ciontent/3/1/12

Asemi, A. (2005). Information searching habits of Internet users: A case study on the Medical Sciences University of Isfahan, Iran. Webology 2(1), article 10. http://www.webology.ir/2005/v2nl/a10.html

Banga, K., & Padda, A.S. (2004). A study of knowledge attitude and practices of faculty members of Govt. Medical College, Amritsar regarding the use of computers.Indian Journal of Medical Informatics 1(2).http://www.iami.org.in/journal1/knowlege.asp

Blumberg, P., & Sparks, J. (1999). Tracing the evolution of critical evaluation skills in students' use of the Internet.Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 87(2):200-5.

Edwards, S.L., & Bruce, C.S. (2002). Reflective Internet searching: An action research model.The Learning Organization: An International Journal 9(4), 180-188.

Inamdar, S. C., & Rotti, S.B. (2004). Computer use among medical students in an institution in Southern India.National Medical Journal of India 17(1):8-10.

Parekh, S.G., Nazarian, D.G., Lim, C.K. (2004). Adoption of Information Technology by physicians. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 421:107-11.

Tillman, H. N. (2003, March 28). Evaluating quality on the net. http://www.hopetillman.com/findqual.html

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