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Logo of bmcmeduBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Medical Education
BMC Med Educ. 2004; 4: 6.
Published online 2004 April 5. doi:  10.1186/1472-6920-4-6
PMCID: PMC400746

How physicians perceive and utilize information from a teratogen information service: The Motherisk Program



Teratogen information services have been developed around the world to disseminate information regarding the safety of maternal exposures during pregnancy. The Motherisk Program in Toronto, Canada, fields thousands of these inquiries per year. Our primary objective was to evaluate the perception and utilization of information received from us by physicians. Our secondary objective was to examine their information seeking behavior, in particular regarding teratogen information.


A one page survey was sent to physicians who had called Motherisk for information concerning pregnancy exposures in the previous 30 days for three months. Among the questions that were asked were demographics, which included gender, years in practice, specialty, information resources, and how they utilized the information received from Motherisk.


We received 118/200 completed questionnaires (59% response rate). The mean age of the respondents was: 42 ± 9 years, mean years of practice was: 14 ± 8 years, males: 46(38%) and females 72(62%) and 95(80%) were family physicians. 56(48%) researched their question prior to calling Motherisk, 106(91%) and passed on the information received to their patient verbatim. The top four resources for information were: 1) The CPS (PDR), 2) textbooks, 3) journals and 4) colleagues. Only 8% used the Medline for gathering information.


Physicians feel that a teratogen information service is an important component in the management of women exposed to drugs, chemicals, radiation and infections diseases etc. during pregnancy. Despite the advent of the electronic age, a minority of the physicians in our survey elected to use electronic means to seek information.

Keywords: teratogen information, physician, sources of information, perception of risk

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