Use of online sources of information by dental practitioners: findings from The Dental Practice-Based Research Network
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Objective: Estimate the proportion of dental practitioners who use online sources of information for practice guidance. Methods: From a survey of 657 dental practitioners in The Dental Practice-Based Research Network, four indicators of online use for practice guidance were calculated: read journals online, obtained continuing education (CDE) through online sources, rated an online source as most influential, and reported frequently using an online source for guidance. Demographics, journals read, and use of various sources of information for practice guidance in terms of frequency and influence were ascertained for each. Results: Overall, 21 percent (n = 138) were classified into one of the four indicators of online use: 14 percent (n = 89) rated an online source as most influential and 13 percent (n = 87) reported frequently using an online source for guidance; few practitioners (5 percent, n = 34) read journals online, fewer (3 percent, n = 17) obtained CDE through online sources. Use of online information sources varied considerably by region and practice characteristics. In general, the four indicators represented practitioners with as many differences as similarities to each other and to offline users. Conclusion: A relatively small proportion of dental practitioners use information from online sources for practice guidance. Variation exists regarding practitioners' use of online source resources and how they rate the value of offline information sources for practice guidance.
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