The Internet and the medical radiation science practitioner
Purpose: The Internet is an important information source for health practitionersproviding immediate access to the most current health and medical information. Factorslimiting practitioner access to the Internet have been identified and the literature shows thataccess to the Internet varies across and within health professions. There is therefore a need foreach health profession to investigate practitioner access to the Internet. There has been, however,no identified empirical research investigating medical radiation science (MRS) practitioneraccess to or use of the Internet. This research sought to establish the professionaluse of Internet-based tools by Australian MRS practitioners and issues affecting access tothe Internet within MRS workplaces.Methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches were used in this research. These includedinterviews with 28 MRS practitioners from the four areas of specialisation, namely nuclearmedicine, radiation therapy, radiography and sonography and a survey of MRS practitioners.In 2007 a 4-page postal survey was sent to a random sample of 1142 MRS practitioners witha response rate of 32.8%.Results: The Internet is an important information source widely used by MRS practitioners. MRSpractitioners search the Internet (87%), access specific web pages (86%), use email (82%) andlistservs (39.4%) to update their professional knowledge. It was evident that access to the Internetwithin the workplace varied within the MRS profession. Whilst the majority (96.4%) ofMRS practitioners had some level of access to the Internet in their workplace, factors shownto affect practitioner access were workplace setting (p Z 0.000), work environment(p Z 0.000), and geographic location (p Z 0.025). The majority of clinical workplaces (81%)did not provide practitioners with remote access to electronic resources available in the workplacesuch as e-journals and databases.Conclusions: This research provides baseline data to the MRS profession on the professional useof the Internet by MRS practitioners and issues limiting the accessibility of information availablethrough the Internet to MRS practitioners. These issues must be addressed by organisations such as professional societies, registration bodies and workplaces that currentlyrecognise or mandate that MRS practitioners must stay up-to-date with the changing knowledgebase of their profession.