The paper of concern is:
Hughes, B., Joshi, I., Lemonde, H., & Wareham, J. (2009). Junior physician’s use of Web 2.0 for information seeking and medical education: A qualitative study International Journal of Medical Informatics DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2009.04.008
Some of the particularly interesting findings were:
- the internet was considered easy to use and a better source than other resources such as textbooks, although reasons against it’s use were concerns about information overload and the limitations of the information found.
- Web 2.0 resources were primarily used for background knowledge needs rather than for foreground knowledge (i.e. real-time clinical decision-making).
- concerns about the validity and accuracy of information from Web 2.0 resources.
I am reassured that junior physicians find internet tools easy to use and appear to be interested in putting them to use. This bodes well for the future.
Less experienced doctors and students generally have greater background knowledge needs than more senior doctors, so I would expect greater use of Web 2.0 tools for this purpose. In the future, Web 2.0, in the form of more comprehensive and up-to-date wikis (such as OzEMedicine) and rapidly improving alternative search engines (see Medical Search for Physicians), may become more widely used for foreground knowledge needs too.
The accuracy, validity and reliability of information from Web 2.0 sources is commonly criticized. I think this is overstated. Consider the alternatives – ‘eminence-based medicine’ must always be taken with a grain of salt and a large proportion of the published medical literature is on a shaky footing (due to poor applicability to real patient populations, methodological flaws, or conflicts of interests). I don’t think Web 2.0 is incompatible with evidence-based medicine (see @laikas wonderful discussion of The Web 2.0 – EBM split). What is important is to develop critical thinking skills and learn to assess the validity of information from all sources, and then exercise considered clinical judgment in deciding on it’s applicability to real world situations (see De testimonio: On the evidence for decisions about the use of therapeutic interventions).
I’ll save a discussion of information overload for another time…