Background. Published literature that describes the use of the Internet by nurses is scant, but it does reveal that there has been a delay in the acceptance of the Internet as a workplace tool by the medical community and, in particular by nurses.
Aims. The purpose of this article is to report on a study of how often and from what location nurses accessed the Internet, as well as the types of information they were seeking. In addition, our goal was to compare nurses' Internet use with that of physicians and the public at large, and to highlight structural and institutional challenges to nurses' use.
Methods. Surveys (1996 and 1998) of Alberta Registered Nurses were used to examine their use of technology at work and at home. Additional data sources were used to compare nurses to physicians and to the general public.
Results. While nurses' Internet and e-mail use at home increased over the 2-year period and was comparable with other groups, Internet use at work was low compared with other groups despite adequate workplace access.
Conclusions. Nurses are more likely to value interpersonal contact, and prefer to use personal experience and communication with colleagues and patients rather than on-line and traditional sources of practice knowledge. In order for an information source to be seen as valuable in the clinical setting, contextually relevant information needs to be accessed quickly and efficiently. Energies should be focused on constructing information systems that address the particular needs of nurses.