Appl Clin Inform 2013; 04(02): 170-184
DOI: 10.4338/ACI-2013-01-RA-0006
Research Article
Schattauer GmbH

Do Language Fluency and Other Socioeconomic Factors Influence the Use of PubMed and MedlinePlus?

L. Sheets
1  University of Missouri Informatics Institute, Columbia, Missouri, USA
2  National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
,
A. Gavino
2  National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
,
F. Callaghan
2  National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
,
P. Fontelo
2  National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Correspondence to:

Lincoln R Sheets, MD
Missouri University Informatics Institute
EBW 241, Columbia MO 65211

Publication History

received: 23 January 2013

accepted: 30 March 2013

Publication Date:
19 December 2017 (online)

 

Summary

Background: Increased usage of MedlinePlus by Spanish-speakers was observed after introduction of MedlinePlus in Spanish. This probably reflects increased usage of MEDLINE and PubMed by those with greater fluency in the language in which it is presented; but this has never been demonstrated in English speakers. Evidence that lack of English fluency deters international healthcare personnel from using PubMed could support the use of multi-language search tools like Babel-MeSH.

Objectives: This study aims to measure the effects of language fluency and other socioeconomic factors on PubMed MEDLINE and MedlinePlus access by international users.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed server pageviews of PubMed and MedlinePlus from various periods of time, and analyzed them against country statistics on language fluency, GDP, literacy rate, Internet usage, medical schools, and physicians per capita, to determine whether they were associated.

Results: We found fluency in English to be positively associated with pageviews of PubMed and MedlinePlus in countries with high literacy rates. Spanish was generally found to be positively associated with pageviews of MedlinePlus en Español. The other parameters also showed varying degrees of association with pageviews.

Conclusions: After adjusting for the other factors investigated in this study, language fluency was a consistently significant predictor of the use of PubMed, MedlinePlus English and MedlinePlus en Español. This study may support the need for multi-language search tools and may increase access of health information resources from non-English speaking countries.

Citation: Sheets L, Gavino A, Callaghan F, Fontelo P. Do language fluency and other socioeconomic factors influence the use of PubMed and MedlinePlus? Appl Clin Inf 2013; 4: 170–184

http://dx.doi.org/10.4338/ACI-2013-01-RA-0006


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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest in the research.


Correspondence to:

Lincoln R Sheets, MD
Missouri University Informatics Institute
EBW 241, Columbia MO 65211