The internet is an increasingly important tool for physicians, but the extent to which it is used by dermatologists is unknown. We aimed to investigate the utilization of the internet by dermatologists in Saudi Arabia for medical purposes during their daily practice and to clarify the reasons for its use and non-use.
A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to all 160 dermatologists attending the National Dermatology conference in 2007.
A total of 107 questionnaires were completed. Sixty-two percent of respondents had access to the internet in the workplace. The use of the internet to update medical knowledge was reported by 91%.
Only 27% had internet access in consultation rooms. The majority of information retrieval occurred outside patient consultation hours (91%).
Only 13% reported using the internet during patient consultation. Possible reasons included: lack of access (54%), time pressure (37%), possible interference with the physician-patient relationship (30%), and that use of the internet was too time-consuming (10%). The mean searching time used to solve a clinical problem was 34 ± 3 minutes. Fifty-eight percent used Pubmed; however, 77% of the dermatologists had no training at all in how to use this tool.
Professional medical use of the internet is widespread among dermatologists in Saudi Arabia. Providing access to the internet in the workplace and training of dermatologists to perform effective electronic searches are badly needed to improve the professional medical use of internet, which is expected to lead to better delivery of patient care.