The Internet is the world's largest network of information, communication and services. Although the Internet is widely used in medicine and has made significant impact in research, training and patient care, few studies had explored the extent to which Nigerian physicians use Internet resources for patient care. The objective of this study was to assess physicians' use of the Internet for health information for patient care.
172 physicians at the University College hospital (UCH) Ibadan, Nigeria; completed a 31-item, anonymous, standardized questionnaire. The Epi-Info software was used for data analysis.
The mean age of the respondents was 31.95 years (SD 4.94). Virtually all (98%) the respondents had used the Internet; 76% accessed it from cyber cafes. E-mail was the most commonly used Internet service (64%). Ninety percent of the respondents reported they had obtained information from the Internet for patient care; of this number, 76.2% had searched a database. The database most recently searched was MEDLINE/PubMed in 99% of cases. Only 7% of the respondents had ever searched the Cochrane Library. More than half (58.1%) perceived they had no confidence to download full-text articles from online sources such as the Health Internetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI). Multiple barriers to increased use of the Internet were identified including poor availability of broadband (fast connection speed) Internet access, lack of information searching skills, cost of access and information overload.
Physicians' use of the Internet for health information for patient care was widespread but use of evidenced-based medicine resources such as Cochrane Library, Up-to-date and Clinical Evidence was minimal. Awareness and training in the use of EBM resources for patient care is needed. Introduction of EBM in the teaching curriculum will enhance the use of EBM resources by physicians for patient care.