Information needs and resource preferences of office-based general pediatricians have not been well characterized.
Data collected from a sample of twenty office-based urban/suburban general pediatricians consisted of: (a) a demographic survey about participants' practice and computer use, (b) semi-structured interviews on their use of different types of information resources and (c) semi-structured interviews on perceptions of information needs and resource preferences in response to clinical vignettes representing cases in Genetics and Infectious Diseases. Content analysis of interviews provided participants' perceived use of resources and their perceived questions and preferred resources in response to vignettes.
Participants' average time in practice was 15.4 years (2–28 years). All had in-office online access.
Participants identified specialist/generalist colleagues, general/specialty pediatric texts, drug formularies, federal government/professional organization Websites and medical portals (when available) as preferred information sources. They did not identify decision-making texts, evidence-based reviews, journal abstracts, medical librarians or consumer health information for routine office use.
In response to clinical vignettes in Genetics and Infectious Diseases, participants identified Question Types about patient-specific (diagnosis, history and findings) and general medical (diagnostic, therapeutic and referral guidelines) information. They identified specialists and specialty textbooks, history and physical examination, colleagues and general pediatric textbooks, and federal and professional organizational Websites as information sources. Participants with access to portals identified them as information resources in lieu of texts.
For Genetics vignettes, participants identified questions about prenatal history, disease etiology and treatment guidelines. For Genetics vignettes, they identified patient history, specialists, general pediatric texts, Web search engines and colleagues as information sources. For Infectious Diseases (ID) vignettes, participants identified questions about patients' clinical status at presentation and questions about disease classification, diagnosis/therapy/referral guidelines and sources of patient education. For ID vignettes, they identified history, laboratory results, colleagues, specialists and personal experience as information sources.
Content analysis of office-based general pediatricians' responses to clinical vignettes provided a qualitative description of their perceptions of information needs and preferences for information resource for cases in Genetics and Infectious Diseases. This approach may provide complementary information for discovering practitioner's information needs and resource preferences in different contexts.