Access to health research: Access to and value of information to support good practice for staff in Kenyan hospitals

Below are the citation and abstract of a recently published open access article. One particularly significant finding was that ‘The most common reason given for never using …[journal databases or electronic books]… was that they were ‘Not available/difficult to get’ or ‘Difficult to understand’.

MUINGA, Naomi et al. Access to and value of information to support good practice for staff in Kenyan hospitals. Global Health Action, [S.l.], v. 8, may. 2015. ISSN 1654-9880. Available at: http://www.globalhealthaction.net/index.php/gha/article/view/26559  Date accessed: 26 Jul. 2015. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/gha.v8.26559.

ABSTRACT

Background: Studies have sought to define information needs of health workers within very specific settings or projects. Lacking in the literature is how hospitals in low-income settings are able to meet the information needs of their staff and the use of information communication technologies (ICT) in day-to-day information searching.

Objective: The study aimed to explore where professionals in Kenyan hospitals turn to for work-related information in their day-to-day work. Additionally, it examined what existing solutions are provided by hospitals with regard to provision of best practice care. Lastly, the study explored the use of ICT in information searching.

Design: Data for this study were collected in July 2012. Self-administered questionnaires (SAQs) were distributed across 22 study hospitals with an aim to get a response from 34 health workers per hospital.

Results: SAQs were collected from 657 health workers. The most popular sources of information to guide work were fellow health workers and printed guidelines while the least popular were scientific journals. Of value to health workers were: national treatment policies, new research findings, regular reports from surveillance data, information on costs of services and information on their performance of routine clinical tasks; however, hospitals only partially met these needs. Barriers to accessing information sources included: ‘not available/difficult to get’ and ‘difficult to understand’. ICT use for information seeking was reported and with demographic specific differences noted from the multivariate logistic regression model; nurses compared to medical doctors and older workers were less likely to use ICT for health information searching. Barriers to accessing Internet were identified as: high costs and the lack of the service at home or at work.

Conclusions: Hospitals need to provide appropriate information by improving information dissemination efforts and providing an enabling environment that allows health workers find the information they need for best practice.

HIFA profile: Malcolm Brewster is a Community Nurse with the National Health Service, UK. Professional interests: Chronic disease, community nursing, medical anthropology, health care in Africa. Email address: malcolmbrewster AT yahoo.com

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