The Information Rx program Requires More Promotion, More Support and Some Adjustment

Matthew Thomas

Abstract


Objective – To determine the level of awareness of the Information Rx program by Georgia librarians and Georgia American College of Physicians (GACP) members, and the use of Information Rx pads, with which physicians would “prescribe” information for their patients.

Design – Descriptive (surveys and interviews).

Setting – Georgia, U.S. Surveys were distributed and responded to online. The face-to-face interview locations were not specified.

Subjects – One survey, which was provided to the Georgia American College of Physicians (GACP) membership including internal medicine physicians and medical students interested in internal medicine, had 46 respondents. The second survey was sent to librarians who were members of the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) and the Georgia Health Sciences Library Association (GHSLA). There were 72 public librarians, 14 hospital librarians and 13 academic medical librarians who responded (as well as 6 not specified in the article). A select group of four medical librarians was chosen for more in-depth interviews. The number of surveys sent out was not provided.
Methods – Two online surveys, one for physicians and one for librarians, were administered. No information concerning response rate was provided. Face-to-face interviews with four academic medical librarians were conducted. No further information about the interviewing process was provided such as who conducted the interviews, methods used to ensure objectivity or consistency, or where the interviews were conducted.

Main Results – Out of 46 GACP survey respondents, only 4 were familiar with the Information Rx program and only 2 of those had used the information Rx pads, neither of whom had referred anyone to a library for further assistance. The two who had not used the pads were either too busy or didn’t understand the program well enough. Of 105 librarian survey respondents, 46 had heard of Information Rx, 37 had received Information Rx promotional materials, and 12 reported helping patrons look for information on MedlinePlus ‘‘prescribed’’ to them by their doctors. Responses to the open-ended interview questions given to the four interviewed librarians were mixed regarding receipt of program materials, negative regarding the effectiveness of the program, and reported no awareness of any patrons having been helped with information “prescriptions.” To improve the program’s success, the author suggested steps such as providing promotional information on the MedlinePlus site, better integration between MedlinePlus and Information Rx, involving librarians somehow in the process as a whole given their ability to help users navigate and understand MedlinePlus, and marketed more to nurses given their front-line responsibilities.

Conclusion – Although the program is somewhat useful, Information Rx has not been promoted or supported sufficiently. Information needs to be linked on the MedlinePlus website, clarification of the program and that it is available at no charge should be emphasized. Librarians should be involved and the target audience may need to be changed to include nurses.

Keywords


consumer health information; program evaluation; physicians; MedlinePlus; health sciences librarianship

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