Vincent DeVita, the director of the National Cancer Institute, has been promoting the use of the user-friendly cancer database system, Physician's Data Query (PDQ), both by physicians and by the public. Because on-line access to PDQ is limited to physicians or other qualified health care professionals, the Cancer Information Service, through its toll-free 1-800-4-CANCER telephone number, provides a major point of access to this system. This paper analyzes changes in the patterns of PDQ use over the three year period that it has been available to the CIS of the Fox Chase Cancer Center.
The total volume of PDQ use by the CIS has increased dramatically over time, both for physicians and for other callers. The proportion of searches done for physicians has decreased, while that for diagnosed cancer patients has increased. The change over time in the type of callers for whom PDQ searches were done was greater than expected compared with the change in non-PDQ callers.