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The Effect of Risk Attitude and Uncertainty Comfort on Primary Care Physicians' Use of Electronic Information Resources

McKibbon, Kathleen Ann (2005) The Effect of Risk Attitude and Uncertainty Comfort on Primary Care Physicians' Use of Electronic Information Resources. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Clinicians use information regularly in clinical care. New electronic information resources provided in push, pull, and prompting formats have potential to improve information support but have not been designed for individualization. Physicians with differing risk status use healthcare resources differently often without an improvement in outcomes.Questions: Do physicians who are risk seeking or risk avoiding and comfortable or uncomfortable with uncertainty use or prefer electronic information resources differently when answering simulated clinical questions and can the processes be modeled with existing theoretical models?Design: Cohort study.Methods: Primary care physicians in Canada and the United States were screened for risk status. Those with high and low scores on 2 validated scales answered 23 multiple-choice questions and searched for information using their own electronic resources for 2 of these questions. They also answered 2 other questions using information from 2 electronic information sources: PIER© and Clinical Evidence© .Results: The physicians did not differ for number of correct answers according to risk status although the number of correct answers was low and not substantially higher than chance. Their searching process was consistent with 2 information-seeking models from information science (modified Wilson Problem Solving and Card/Pirolli Information Foraging/Information Scent models). Few differences were seen for any electronic searching or information use outcome based on risk status although those physicians who were comfortable with uncertainty used more searching heuristics and spent less effort on direct searching. More than 20% of answers were changed after searching—almost the same number going from incorrect to correct and from correct to incorrect. These changes from a correct to incorrect answer indicate that some electronic information resources may not be ideal for direct clinical care or integration into electronic medical record systems.Conclusions: Risk status may not be a major factor in the design of electronic information resources for primary care physicians. More research needs to be done to determine which computerized information resources and which features of these resources are associated with obtaining and maintaining correct answers to clinical questions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McKibbon, Kathleen
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFridsma, Douglas
Committee MemberFriedman, Charles
Committee MemberDetlefsen, Ellen Gellen@mail.sis.pitt.eduELLEN
Committee MemberHaynes, R.
Committee MemberCrowley, Rebecca SCrowleyRS@upmc.eduREBECCAJ
Date: 30 September 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 June 2005
Approval Date: 30 September 2005
Submission Date: 5 August 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Biomedical Informatics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: information resources; Information seeking behavior; medical decision making; medical informatics; think-aloud protocols
Other ID:, etd-08052005-075912
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:57
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:37


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