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How residents and interns utilise and perceive the personal digital assistant and UpToDate

BMC Medical Education
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1186/1472-6920-8-39
  • Research Article
  • Education
  • Medicine


Background In this era of evidence-based medicine, doctors are increasingly using information technology to acquire medical knowledge. This study evaluates how residents and interns utilise and perceive the personal digital assistant (PDA) and the online resource UpToDate. Methods This is a questionnaire survey of all residents and interns in a tertiary teaching hospital. Results Out of 168 doctors, 134 (79.8%) responded to the questionnaire. Only 54 doctors (40.3%) owned a PDA. Although these owners perceived that the PDA was most useful for providing drug information, followed by medical references, scheduling and medical calculators, the majority of them did not actually have medical software applications downloaded on their PDAs. The greatest concerns highlighted for the PDA were the fear of loss and breakage, and the preference for working with desktop computers and paper. Meanwhile, only 76 doctors (56.7%) used UpToDate, even though the hospital had an institutional subscription for it. Although 93.4% of these users would recommend UpToDate to a colleague, only 57.9% stated that the use of UpToDate had led to a change in their management of patients. Conclusion Although UpToDate and various PDA software applications were deemed useful by some of the residents and interns in our study, both digital tools were under-utilised. More should be done to facilitate the use of medical software applications on PDAs, to promote awareness of tools for evidence-based medicine such as UpToDate, and to facilitate the application of evidence-based medicine in daily clinical practice.

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