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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ANOVA answer average Background and search Background variables Bandolier best available evidence bibliographic databases Boolean operators clinical decisions Cochrane library complex constraints consulted a colleague Dovey electronic database searchers electronic information sources electronic sources Embase etal Evidence Based Medicine evidencebased factor finding Foraging Theory Google GPs were asked GPs who consulted groups guidelines High Searchers information foraging information items information need information search logbook information sources consulted informationneed informationseeking informationsources journals literature search service Low Searchers medicine Medline Medline/PubMed minutes NEDS obstacles to informationsearching ofinformation ofthe Optimal Foraging Optimal Foraging Theory patch patient practitioners primary care physicians PsycINFO questionnaire relevant respondents retrieval search efficiency search engine search strategies search success search variables searchers HS searching skills second source seeking significant association significant difference specific success rate third source total search type of information type of source variables associated versus Wellington region workload Zealand