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Nurses and Internet health information: a questionnaire survey


J.A. Gilmour: e-mail:


Title. Nurses and Internet health information: a questionnaire survey

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to identify the extent of postgraduate nursing students’ information literacy skills in relation to electronic media and health information and barriers to accessing this information.

Background.  The Internet is a key source of information for a significant group of patients. However, there is evidence of quality issues with some Internet health information sites. Nurses need to be aware of the range and quality of online health information so as to assist patients and families to locate and evaluate relevant and current information.

Method.  A questionnaire designed to collect quantitative and qualitative data was posted to a convenience sample of all students enrolled in a postgraduate nursing programme in December 2005. The response rate was 55·1% or 123 responses.

Results.  Most respondents had Internet access at home and work and believed that access to online health information resources had improved their practice. However, some had difficulties in accessing computers at work and insufficient time to search for online health information. Concern was expressed about the quality of online information, but the majority of respondents did not assess patient use. Frequent users of online resources were more likely to assess patient use.

Conclusion.  The development of nursing competencies in accessing and using online resources is a key precursor to supporting patients and families’ use of the medium. Access to Internet resources at work, along with training and time for searching, is necessary for the development of skills enabling effective use of information technology.

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