Medical professionals go online for literature searches and communication with families.
We administered a questionnaire to members of the Italian Society of Pediatrics to assess determinants of their use of the Internet, of social platforms and of personal health records during clinical practice.
All the 9180 members of the Italian Society of Pediatrics were invited to fill in a questionnaire concerning use of the Internet and usefulness of Internet-based tools during clinical practice. The questionnaire was administered through the SurveyMonkey® web platform. Logistic regression analysis was used to study factors affecting use and influence of the Internet in clinical practice.
A total of 1335 (14.5%) members returned the questionnaire. Mean age was 49.2 years, 58.6% were female. 32.3% had access to the Internet through a Smartphone. 71.9% of respondents used the Internet during clinical practice, mainly searching for guidelines and drug references. Use of the Internet during clinical practice was more frequent among younger pediatricians (OR 0.964; 95% CI 0.591-0.978), males (OR 1.602; 95% CI 1.209-2.123) and those living in Northern and Central Italy (OR 1.441; 95% CI 1.111-1.869), while it was lower among family pediatricians. 94.6% of respondents were influenced in their clinical practice by information found on the Internet, in particular younger pediatricians (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.932-0.989), hospital pediatricians (OR 2.929, 95% CI 1.708-5.024), and other pediatric profiles (OR 6.143, 95%CI 1.848-20.423). 15.9% of respondents stated that social networks may be useful in pediatric practice. Slightly more than half (50.5%) of respondents stated that personal health records may be clinically relevant. Registrars and hospital pediatricians were more likely to perceive personal health records as useful tools for clinical practice. Additional resources pediatricians would like to access were free bibliographic databases and tools for interacting with families.
Italian pediatricians frequently use the Internet during their practice. One-third of them access the Internet through a Smartphone. Interaction with families and their empowerment can be improved by the use of Internet tools, including personal health records, toward which respondents show a significant interest. Though, they show a general resistance to the introduction of social networks in clinical practice.