Use of a multi-application computer workstation in a clinical setting

W. Hersh, D. Hickam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to assess the usage frequency, user satisfaction, and quality of literature searches for a multi-application computer workstation in a university-based general medicine clinic. A computer with medical literature searching, textbook searching, and a decision-support program was deployed in the workroom of the clinic and made available for routine use. Data were collected for ten months. More than three quarters of the study participants used the computer, with use increasing by level of medical training. Despite physicians' known preferences for nonjournal sources of information, literature searching was the application used most frequently, followed by textbooks and decision support. The literature searches were replicated by experienced clinician and librarian searchers using first full MEDLINE and then text-word-only searching, to compare the quantities of relevant references retrieved. Novice searchers retrieved a larger number of relevant references than did the experienced searchers, but they also retrieved more nonrelevant references. For both groups of experienced searchers, the full MEDLINE feature set conferred little benefit over searching with only text words. These searching results call into question the value of traditional searching methods for both novice and experienced physicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-389
Number of pages8
JournalBulletin of the Medical Library Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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