Foraging Theory Applied to Medical Information Searching
Workload and other constraints prevent General Practitioners from accessing medical evidence for clinical decisions. This problem was studied in New Zealand GPs using Optimal Foraging Theory developed in ecology. GPs' information search strategies were modelled as sequential steps associated with costs and benefits measured from logbooks of actual searches. By consulting the most profitable sources, switching sources when unsuccessful, and double checking, GPs seem close to an optimal trade-off between maximizing search success and information reliability, and minimizing searching time. Subsidised training in information searching and provision of a literature search service are two inferred avenues to access medical evidence.
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List of Tables
List of Figures
1 Delineation of the Problem
2 Significance Of Problem
3 Conceptual Frameworks Available for Studying the Problem
4 Research Design
Table 18 Reasons for stopping a search of the needed information altogether
Figure 5 Time profile of a search sequence
Table 20 Time spent searching in an information source according to the order of access and type of the information source consulted
Table 21 Variation in searching time in the first source according to the type of information source consulted
Table 23 Crosstabulation of search success versus search time in the first information source
Table 25 Crosstabulation of search success by attendance of training courses
Table 26 Relationship between Search Level High Medium and Low and total search time to address an information need
Figure 6 Error bars of total search time by GPs search levels
Table 1 Age distribution among respondents
Year of graduation
Table 2 Distribution of weekly working hours among respondents N 114
Table 4 Ratings of the importance of information attributes sought for by the respondents
Table 6 Rating of the use of and awareness of electronic information sources among respondents
Table 7 Rating of perceived obstacles to informationsearching among Wellington GPs Sample size N refers to number of answers received
Table 8 Rating of options for informationsearch facilitation among Wellington GPs
Figure 4 Publication year and frequency of use of first choice books frequently used to support clinicaldecision making in the last 3 months
Table 9 Cross tabulation between Searcher levels and Methods that GPs thought should be used most commonly in General Practice to seek the best ...
Table 10 Frequencies of information sources used by electronic database and non electronic database searchers
Table 11 Urgency of finding the information needed N71
Table 12 Types and order of information sources consulted to address an information need
Table 13 Reasons stated for choosing information sources
Table 14 Browsing method used for selecting relevant items in published electronic information sources
Table 15 Criteria used to seek information items in publishedelectronic sources
Table 17 Criteria for stopping a search within an information source
Table 27 Significance and sign of relationship between background or search variables and the type of the first information source consulted non sig...
Table 28 Significance and sign of relationship between background or search variables and the type of the second information source consulted non ...
Table 29 Significance and sign of relationship between background or search variables and then type of the third information source consulted non s...
Table 30 Cross tabulation between the level of information searching frequency in routine practice High Searchers versus Low Searchers and the typ...
Table 31 Variation in total information searching time according to the complexity of the information need
Table 32 Cross tabulation between the complexity of an information need and the number of information sources consulted
Table 33 Crosstabulation between the complexity of the addressed information needs and information searching frequency in routine practice
Table 34 Summary of GPs responses at different stages of an information foraging session to address an information need encountered in everyday p...
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address an information ANOVA awareness beneﬁts best available evidence bibliographic databases Boolean operators clinical decisions Clinical Information Search Cochrane library complexity constraints consulted a colleague critical appraisal Dovey electronic information sources electronic sources Embase Evidence Based Medicine evidence-based evidence-based medicine ﬁnd ﬁnding ﬁrst information source ﬁrst source Google GPs were asked GPs who consulted groups guidelines High Searchers inﬂuenced information foraging information items information need Information Search logbook information source consulted literature search service Low Searchers medicine Medline Medline/PubMed minutes NEDS GPs Optimal Foraging Theory patch perceived practitioners primary care physicians questionnaire relevant respondents retrieval search efﬁciency search engine search for information search strategies search success search variables searching skills second information source second source showed a signiﬁcant signiﬁcant association signiﬁcant difference speciﬁc spent stop searching third source total search training courses type of information type of source Wellington region Wellington School workload Zealand