Aims. This paper reports a study examining the use of central (colleagues, inservice and newsletters) and peripheral information sources (Internet, library, journal subscriptions and continuing education) among a large sample of rural and remote nurses and explores the factors associated with the use of particular peripheral information sources.
Background. There have been few studies of the specific sources of information accessed by Registered Nurses, particularly rural or remote nurses, and the characteristics of nurses and their organizations that are associated with the use of particular information sources.
Methods. A questionnaire survey was conducted with 3933 Registered Nurses from all regions of rural and remote Canada between October 2001 and July 2002. We used frequencies and cross-tabulations to describe rates of information use, and forward selection logistic regression with likelihood ratio selection to build the best-fitting model of the variables that affected the odds of using each peripheral information source.
Results. Nursing colleagues ranked as the information source most frequently used, and the Internet and library ranked lowest. On average, nurses used a statistically significantly greater number of central than peripheral sources. Peripheral information source use was higher among nurses who had access to current information, opportunities to share their knowledge with others, higher education levels, were in positions of authority and worked with healthcare students. The associations between age and geographical location varied according to the peripheral information source under consideration.
Conclusions. The vast majority of rural and remote nurses used at least one peripheral information source to inform their practice. Increasing the number of research sources used by these nurses requires attention to issues of information access in these areas, as well as issues of staff recruitment and retention of staff in under-serviced rural and remote regions.