Information behaviour of medical doctors and professional nurses in selected hospitals of OR Tambo Health District, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the information behaviour of medical doctors and professional nurses in five selected district hospitals of the OR Tambo Health District in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The study addressed the following research questions: What role and tasks do medical doctors and professional nurses perform in the five selected hospitals? What are the information needs of medical doctors and professional nurses in the five selected district hospitals? What are the channels and sources of information preferred by the medical doctors and professional nurses in the five selected district hospitals? What factors facilitate or hinder information seeking by medical doctors and professional nurses in the five selected district hospitals? The study used Leckie, Pettigrew and Sylvain‘s 1996 information seeking model as the theoretical lens underpinned by a post-positivism paradigm and a mixed method approach. A descriptive exploratory design was conducted. The population of study consisted of medical doctors and professional nurses in the five district hospitals. District hospitals play a pivotal role in supporting primary health care and are also a gateway to more specialist care. Data was collected using in-depth interviews, non-respondent observation and a survey questionnaire. A total of 167 of 205 copies of the questionnaire were distributed to medical doctors and professional nurses in the district hospitals were completed and returned, giving a response rate of 81.5%. Professional nurses constituted 86.3% of the survey respondents whereas medical doctors constituted 13.8%. In addition, all targeted interview respondents who included; 5 clinical managers and 5 nursing service managers were interviewed, translating to 100% response rate. All hospital wards except theatres were covered through observation. The quantitative data was analysed using SPSS while qualitative data was analysed thematically. The findings revealed that roles and associated tasks of medical doctors and professional nurses in the five selected district hospitals for which they needed information included patient care, teaching, training, continuing professional development and research. Medical doctors and professional nurses in the district hospitals surveyed preferred clinical guidelines, colleagues, hospital procedure manuals, drug lists, and reference books as sources of information. The findings revealed that ward rounds, workshops, seminars and in-service training were other preferred sources of information by medical doctors and professional nurses. The findings showed that the characteristics of the information source such as accessibility, familiarity, trustworthiness and cost and personal attributes such as willingness to learn, exposure to information during undergraduate training, peer pressure, and youthful age motivated medical doctors and professional nurses to look for information. The lack of time, unavailability of computers, lack of internet connectivity, inadequacy, or unavailability of libraries, and lack of technological skills were found to hinder access to information sources. The study makes among other recommendations: the need for institutional and national policies for the provision of information services to medical doctors and nurses; regular information behaviour surveys; making documents available in electronic formats; requisite implementing capacity building programmes for medical nurses and doctors; and providing information access points close to or within reasonable distance to the work place of medical doctors and professional nurses. The study makes original contribution to the domain of information behaviour of medical doctors and nurses from a developing country context such as South Africa. The study also forms the basis upon which policies related to the provision of information for medical doctors and professional nurses in public hospitals in the South African context can be formulated. The study provides baseline information upon which more research can be undertaken on the information needs, preferred information sources as well as factors that facilitate or hinder information seeking behaviour of medical doctors and professional nurses in South Africa. Future research should be extended to cover information behaviour of medical doctors, medical specialists, and nurses in tertiary, regional, and specialised hospitals in South Africa.