Web Geekery in Recent Literature – 2/27/2007

Med Teach. 2008;30(1):10-16.
‘Net Generation’ medical students: technological experiences of pre-clinical and clinical students.
Kennedy G, Gray K, Tse J.
University of Melbourne, Australia.
Background: While institutions have been keen to integrate information and communication technologies into medical education, little is known about the technological experiences of the current cohort of so-called ‘Net Generation’ students. Aims: This study investigated the technological experiences of medical students and determined whether there were differences between pre-clinical and clinical students. Method: In 2006, 207 pre-clinical and 161 clinical students studying medicine at a major Australian university were surveyed. The questionnaire asked students about their access to, use of and skills with an array of technologies and technology-based tools. Results: The results show that access to mobile phones, memory sticks, desktop computers, and broadband Internet connections was high while technologies such as PDAs were used in very low numbers. A factor analysis of students’ use of 39 technology-based tools revealed nine clear activity types, including the ‘standard’ use of computers and mobile-phones, and the use of the Internet as a pastime activity, for podcasting and for accessing services. A comparison of pre-clinical and clinical students revealed a number of significant differences in terms of the frequency and skill with which these students use distinct technology-based tools. Conclusions: The findings inform current technology-based teaching and learning activities and shed light on potential areas of educational technology development.
PMID: 18278643

David wonders: Does “Net Generation” = “Digital Natives” = “GenX/GenY”?

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Support Care Cancer. 2008 Feb 22
Internet use by cancer survivors: current use and future wishes.
van de Poll-Franse LV, van Eenbergen MC.
Comprehensive Cancer Centre South (IKZ), Eindhoven Cancer Registry, P.O. box 231, 5600 AE, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, l.vd.poll@ikz.nl.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate the extent of internet access and use and patient characteristics associated with internet use. We also aimed to study when and at which sites cancer patients search for information, the self-reported effect on health care use, and patients’ wishes with respect to future internet possibilities. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We drew a sample of 390 patients diagnosed with breast (n = 128), prostate (n = 96), or gynecological (n = 89) cancer or lymphoma (n = 77) in four different hospitals in the period 2002-2004, who were 65 years or younger at diagnosis. These patients were sent a questionnaire that contained 45 questions about demographics and three broad applications of internet use: content, communication, community. RESULTS: Of the 261 (75%) patients who responded, 60% used Internet by themselves, 9% via others, whereas 31% did not use the Internet. High education, young age, and high socio-economic status were all independently positively associated with internet use. Of the patients with complaints but pre-diagnosis, 41% searched the Internet for information about cancer daily to several times a week. After diagnosis, during treatment, and at follow-up, this was, respectively, 71%, 56%, and 4%. Although patients preferred to get reliable information from the Web site of their oncologist (88%), hospital (70%) or Dutch Cancer Society (76%), Web sites that are completely financed and created by pharmaceutical industries were mentioned most as source of information. Patients who used the Internet to find information about cancer felt themselves to be better informed about their disease (72%); only 3% thought that consulting the Internet increased the frequency of visiting their doctor, whereas 20% felt that information from the Internet influenced the treatment decision made by their doctor. Most patients who use the Internet would like to be able to access their own medical file (79%) or test results (81%) if possible. CONCLUSION: Many cancer patients use the Internet to find reliable information about their disease and treatment. Patient information centers from hospitals should be strongly encouraged to improve disease and treatment information facilities on their hospital Web site, especially since most patients view their oncologist still as the most important source of information.

PMID: 18293014

David notes: I suppose that it is good to have a supporting study, but I wasn’t aware that there was any doubt about the fact that a lot of patients in comparatively wired (affluent) nations dealing with any illness “use the Internet to find reliable information about their disease and treatment.”
Take-home lesson for hospital libraries: “Patient information centers from hospitals should be strongly encouraged to improve disease and treatment information facilities on their hospital Web site”

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BMC Public Health. 2008 Feb 21;8(1):69
Health information seeking on the Internet: a double divide? Results from a representative survey in the Paris metropolitan area, France, 2005-2006.
Renahy E, Parizot I, Chauvin P.
[Free full text PDF]

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The Internet is a major source of information for professionals and the general public, especially in the field of health. However, despite ever-increasing connection rates, a digital divide persists in the industrialised countries. The objective of this study was to assess the determinants involved in: 1) having or not having Internet access; and 2) using or not using the Internet to obtain health information. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of a representative random sample was conducted in the Paris metropolitan area, France, in the fall of 2005 (n = 3023). RESULTS: Close to 70% of the adult population had Internet access, and 49% of Internet users had previously searched for medical information. Economic and social disparities observed in online health information seeking are reinforced by the economic and social disparities in Internet access, hence a double divide. While individuals who reported having a recent health problem were less likely to have Internet access (odds ratio (OR): 0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.53-0.98), it is they who, when they have Internet access, are the most likely to search for health information (OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.11-1.87). CONCLUSIONS: In the French context of universal health insurance, access to the Internet varies according to social and socioeconomic status and health status, and its use for health information seeking varies also with health beliefs, but not to health insurance coverage or health-care utilisation. Certain economic and social inequalities seem to impact cumulatively on Internet access and on the use of the Internet for health information seeking. It is not obvious that the Internet is a special information tool for primary prevention in people who are the furthest removed from health concerns. However, the Internet appears to be a useful complement for secondary prevention, especially for better understanding health problems or enhancing therapeutic compliance.

PMID: 18291024

David notes: Inside or outside of the context of universal healthcare, it isn’t at all surprising to read that “access to the Internet varies according to social and socioeconomic status and health status, and its use for health information seeking varies also with health beliefs, but not to health insurance coverage or health-care utilisation.” Are there really people who don’t understand that access to quality information depends greatly on social and economic factors even in the most wired and affluent nations?
Take home lesson for hospital libraries: Again, make your hospital library Web site a gateway to the best available free information.

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J Med Internet Res. 2008 Jan 22;10(1):e2.
Impact of web searching and social feedback on consumer decision making: a prospective online experiment. [Free full text]
Lau AY, Coiera EW.
Centre for Health Informatics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
BACKGROUND: The World Wide Web has increasingly become an important source of information in health care consumer decision making. However, little is known about whether searching online resources actually improves consumers' understanding of health issues. OBJECTIVES: The aim was to study whether searching on the World Wide Web improves consumers' accuracy in answering health questions and whether consumers' understanding of health issues is subject to further change under social feedback. METHODS: This was a pre/post prospective online study. A convenience sample of 227 undergraduate students was recruited from the population of the University of New South Wales. Subjects used a search engine that retrieved online documents from PubMed, MedlinePlus, and HealthInsite and answered a set of six questions (before and after use of the search engine) designed for health care consumers. They were then presented with feedback consisting of a summary of the post-search answers provided by previous subjects for the same questions and were asked to answer the questions again. RESULTS: There was an improvement in the percentage of correct answers after searching (pre-search 61.2% vs post-search 82.0%, P &#60 .001) and after feedback with other subjects' answers (pre-feedback 82.0% vs post-feedback 85.3%, P =.051).The proportion of subjects with highly confident correct answers (ie, confident or very confident) and the proportion with highly confident incorrect answers significantly increased after searching (correct pre-search 61.6% vs correct post-search 95.5%, P &#60.001; incorrect pre-search 55.3% vs incorrect post-search 82.0%, P &#60.001). Subjects who were not as confident in their post-search answers were 28.5% more likely than those who were confident or very confident to change their answer after feedback with other subjects' post-search answers (chi(2) (1)= 66.65, P &#60.001). CONCLUSIONS: Searching across quality health information sources on the Web can improve consumers' accuracy in answering health questions. However, a consumer's confidence in an answer is not a good indicator of the answer being correct. Consumers who are not confident in their answers after searching are more likely to be influenced to change their views when provided with feedback from other consumers.
PMID: 18244893

David wonders: The fact that study participants were undergrad students is pretty significant, isn’t it?

One thought on “Web Geekery in Recent Literature – 2/27/2007

  1. re Web Geekery in Recent Literature – 2/27/2007 :
    Med Teach. 2008;30(1):10-16.
    ‘Net Generation’ medical students: technological experiences of pre-clinical and clinical students.
    Kennedy G, Gray K, Tse J.
    University of Melbourne, Australia. (The “other” university!!) … Conclusions: The findings inform current technology-based teaching and learning activities and shed light on potential areas of educational technology development.
    BUT …. can these students search a library catalogue or Medline?!