Use of the Internet and electronic resources for dental science information: a case study.

Author:Manhas, Rajeev
Position:Case study


Sources of information available via the Internet are increasing exponentially (Asemi, 2005). This comes with a steady increase in Internet use for education (Edwards and Bruce, 2002) and for research. The Internet is also making substantial inroads in patient care and dissemination of health care information. It is changing the way health sciences professionals obtain information. They use the Internet and electronic resources to do things like accessing medical records, providing remote patient care through telemedicine facilities, and accessing health care literature (Joos, et al., 2006). Dentists also depend more and more on the Internet. Dental product information, continuing education resources, online supply catalogs, and reference information have made Internet increasingly popular in dentistry (Schleyer, Spallek and Torres-Urguidy, 1998). The present study is an attempt to examine the role of the Internet and electronic resources in dental colleges and hospitals of Punjab, India.

Literature Review

The Internet is widely used in medicine and has made an impact in research, training, and patient care (Ajuwon, 2006). A review of literature reveals the use of Internet and electronic resources for patient care. Physicians use the Internet and electronic information resources to obtain answers to patientspecific questions and to keep abreast of developments in clinical medicine (Thompson, 1997; Koller et al., 2001).

Schleyer, Spallek, and Torres-Urguidy (1998) developed a profile of current Internet users in dentistry (that is, professionals who either subscribed to dental discussion lists or who frequented dental websites with high traffic) dentists, assistants, hygienists, dental students, and educators. The study reported that respondents used the Internet for discussing clinical cases, obtaining diagnostic and therapeutic information, buying dental products, communicating with patients, and participating in continuing education. A majority of the respondents (80%) considered the Internet to be a useful or very useful resource in dentistry.

Nicholas, et al. (2003) conducted a study in the UK to examine the use of the web for health information and advice. More than 1,300 people were surveyed. The study showed that 66% of the respondents accessed the Internet from home, 28% from work, and the remainder (6%) used a combination of both work and home.

Rehman and Ramzy (2004) conducted a study on the Internet use by health professionals at the health sciences centre (HSC) of Kuwait University. The study showed that 92.1% of the respondents accessed Internet from their office, while 73.2% also accessed it from home. Another 28.3% also used the HSC Library for accessing the Internet. The study indicated that 80.3% of the respondents used Internet daily, 15% used it once a week and 2.5% used it once a month. 88.2% of the respondents felt that the Internet provided better access to health sciences information, 77.2% indicated that through the Internet they had better professional contacts and 57.5% stated that with the use of Internet they were able to use different channels of communication for their patient care and research.

Asemi (2005) did a case study of Medical Sciences University of Isfahan (MUI), Iran. The results of the study showed that all the respondents used the Internet frequently because all faculties had an Internet connection. It was revealed that the researchers of the university were getting quality health information and patient care through the Internet. Fifty-five percent of respondents searched for scientific health information through the Internet because the university library provided access to databases and online journals students and staff.

Ajuwon (2006) conducted a study of the physicians' use of the Internet for health information...

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