Association between Search Behaviors and Disease Prevalence Rates at 18 U.S. Children's Hospitals
10 August 2017
14 October 2017
14 December 2017 (online)
Background Usage of online resources by clinicians in training and practice can provide insight into knowledge gaps and inform development of decision support tools. Although online information seeking is often driven by encountered patient problems, the relationship between disease prevalence and search rate has not been previously characterized.
Objective This article aimed to (1) identify topics frequently searched by pediatric clinicians using UpToDate (http://www.uptodate.com) and (2) explore the association between disease prevalence rate and search rate using data from the Pediatric Health Information System.
Methods We identified the most common search queries and resources most frequently accessed on UpToDate for a cohort of 18 children's hospitals during calendar year 2012. We selected 64 of the most frequently searched diseases and matched ICD-9 data from the PHIS database during the same time period. Using linear regression, we explored the relationship between clinician query rate and disease prevalence rate.
Results The hospital cohort submitted 1,228,138 search queries across 592,454 sessions. The majority of search sessions focused on a single search topic. We identified no consistent overall association between disease prevalence and search rates. Diseases where search rate was substantially higher than prevalence rate were often infectious or immune/rheumatologic conditions, involved potentially complex diagnosis or management, and carried risk of significant morbidity or mortality. None of the examined diseases showed a decrease in search rate associated with increased disease prevalence rates.
Conclusion This is one of the first medical learning needs assessments to use large-scale, multisite data to identify topics of interest to pediatric clinicians, and to examine the relationship between disease prevalence and search rate for a set of pediatric diseases. Overall, disease search rate did not appear to be associated with hospital disease prevalence rates based on ICD-9 codes. However, some diseases were consistently searched at a higher rate than their prevalence rate; many of these diseases shared common features.
Keywordsinformation retrieval - search query log analysis - educational needs assessment - data mining
D.D. conceptualized and designed the study, performed database generation, drafted the initial manuscript and revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. T. W. reviewed and revised the manuscript and approved the final manuscript as submitted. T.L. performed the initial statistical analysis, reviewed and revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. M.H. assisted with conceptualization of the study and database generation, reviewed and revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. J.B. refined study design, reviewed and revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work.
Protection of Human and Animal Subjects
This study was performed in compliance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki on Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects. The study and its component analyses were approved for exemption by the Institutional Review Board of Boston Children's Hospital.
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