Analysis of questions asked by family doctors regarding patient care

John W. Ely, Jerome A. Osheroff, Mark H. Ebell, George R. Bergus, Barcey T. Levy, M. Lee Chambliss, Eric R. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

371 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives. To characterise the information needs of family doctors by collecting the questions they asked about patient care during consultations and to classify these in ways that would be useful to developers of knowledge bases. Design. Observational study in which investigators visited doctors for two half days and collected their questions. Taxonomies were developed to characterise the clinical topic and generic type of information sought for each question. Setting. Eastern Iowa. Participants. Random sample of 103 family doctors. Main outcome measures. Number of questions posed, pursued, and answered; topic and generic type of information sought for each question; time spent pursuing answers; information resources used. Results. Participants asked a total of 1101 questions. Questions about drug prescribing, obstetrics and gynaecology, and adult infectious disease were most common and comprised 36% of all questions. The taxonomy of generic questions included 69 categories; the three most common types, comprising 24% of all questions, were 'What is the cause of symptom X?' 'What is the dose of drug X?' and 'How should I manage disease or finding X?' Answers to most questions (702, 64%) were not immediately pursued, but, of those pursued, most (318, 80%) were answered. Doctors spent an average of less than 2 minutes pursuing an answer, and they used readily available print and human resources. Only two questions led to a formal literature search. Conclusions. Family doctors in this study did not pursue answers to most of their questions. Questions about patient care can be organised into a limited number of generic types, which could help guide the efforts of knowledge base developers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-361
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Medical Journal
Volume319
Issue number7206
StatePublished - Aug 7 1999

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Knowledge Bases
Patient Care
Drug Prescriptions
Gynecology
Obstetrics
Observational Studies
Communicable Diseases
Referral and Consultation
Research Personnel
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
Pharmaceutical Preparations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Ely, J. W., Osheroff, J. A., Ebell, M. H., Bergus, G. R., Levy, B. T., Chambliss, M. L., & Evans, E. R. (1999). Analysis of questions asked by family doctors regarding patient care. British Medical Journal, 319(7206), 358-361.

Analysis of questions asked by family doctors regarding patient care. / Ely, John W.; Osheroff, Jerome A.; Ebell, Mark H.; Bergus, George R.; Levy, Barcey T.; Chambliss, M. Lee; Evans, Eric R.

In: British Medical Journal, Vol. 319, No. 7206, 07.08.1999, p. 358-361.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ely, JW, Osheroff, JA, Ebell, MH, Bergus, GR, Levy, BT, Chambliss, ML & Evans, ER 1999, 'Analysis of questions asked by family doctors regarding patient care', British Medical Journal, vol. 319, no. 7206, pp. 358-361.
Ely JW, Osheroff JA, Ebell MH, Bergus GR, Levy BT, Chambliss ML et al. Analysis of questions asked by family doctors regarding patient care. British Medical Journal. 1999 Aug 7;319(7206):358-361.
Ely, John W. ; Osheroff, Jerome A. ; Ebell, Mark H. ; Bergus, George R. ; Levy, Barcey T. ; Chambliss, M. Lee ; Evans, Eric R. / Analysis of questions asked by family doctors regarding patient care. In: British Medical Journal. 1999 ; Vol. 319, No. 7206. pp. 358-361.
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