Acceptability of medical digital libraries

Adams, Anne and Blandford, Ann (2002). Acceptability of medical digital libraries. Health Informatics Journal, 8(2) pp. 58–66.




Evidenced-based medicine has increased the importance of quick accessibility to reputable, up-to-date information. Web-accessible digital libraries (DLs) on the wards can address the demand for such information. The use and acceptability of these resources has, however, been lower than expected due to a poor understanding of the context of use. To appreciate the social and organizational impacts of ward-accessible DLs for clinicians, results of a study within a large London-based hospital are presented. In-depth interviews and focus groups with 73 clinicians (from pre-registration nurses to surgeons) were conducted, and the data analysed using the grounded theory method. It was found that clinical social structures interact with inadequate training provision (for senior clinicians), technical support and DL usability to produce a knowledge gap between junior and senior staff, resulting in information - and technology - hoarding behaviours. Findings also detail the perceived effectiveness of traditional and digital libraries and the impact of clinician status on information control and access. One important conclusion is that increased DL usability and adequate support and training for senior clinicians would increase perceptions of DLs as support for, rather than replacement of, their clinical expertise.

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