The information-seeking behaviour of doctors: a review of the evidence



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 27, Issue 4, 341, Article first published online: 3 November 2010

Karen Davies, Department of Information Science, FK029, Holywell Park, Garendon Wing, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK. E-mail:


This paper provides a narrative review of the available literature from the past 10 years (1996–2006) that focus on the information seeking behaviour of doctors. The review considers the literature in three sub-themes: Theme 1, the Information Needs of Doctors includes information need, frequency of doctors’ questions and types of information needs; Theme 2, Information Seeking by Doctors embraces pattern of information resource use, time spent searching, barriers to information searching and information searching skills; Theme 3, Information Sources Utilized by Doctors comprises the number of sources utilized, comparison of information sources consulted, computer usage, ranking of information resources, printed resource use, personal digital assistant (PDA) use, electronic database use and the Internet. The review is wide ranging. It would seem that the traditional methods of face-to-face communication and use of hard-copy evidence still prevail amongst qualified medical staff in the clinical setting. The use of new technologies embracing the new digital age in information provision may influence this in the future. However, for now, it would seem that there is still research to be undertaken to uncover the most effective methods of encouraging clinicians to use the best evidence in everyday practice.