Open Access Open Badges Research article

Analysis of internet use behaviors among clinical medical students in China

Hua Yang*, Yunxiang Chen, Liqiang Zheng, Xin Xu and Xia Cao

Author Affiliations

Library of Shengjing Hospital, China Medical University, No. 36 Sanhao Street, Heping District, Shenyang, Liaoning Province 110004, China

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:67  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-67

Published: 2 April 2014



The availability of internet-based information resources is increasing and the appropriate use of such resources is an important subject for clinical medical students. The aims of this study were to investigate the behaviors of clinical medical students regarding the use of internet-based activities, to analyze the behavior and characteristics of the students’ information demands, and to discuss the behaviors and time preferences related to internet use of students with different levels of education.


Librarians obtained real-time feedback from 999 clinical medical students to record online activities. The data was recorded in a standard form and then analyzed statistically.


There were significant differences in the use of the internet for learning activities among the different groups of clinical medical students (P < 0.0001). Learning accounted for 73.5% of all internet use for doctoral candidates, 47.6% of internet use for master’s candidates, 28.7% of internet use for seven-year undergraduate students, and 14.1% of use for five-year undergraduate students. There was also a significant difference in the proportions of leisure and e-commerce activities among the student groups (P < 0.0001), with five-year students displaying the highest total proportion of these activities (59.4% and 18.8%). Internet use for entertainment activities was the same for all groups of clinical medical students. Time of day of internet use was consistent across all student groups, but internet use differed by day of the week (P < 0.01). There was no difference among the time of day of internet use for learning, leisure and entertainment activities during a single day (P > 0.05), but e-commerce activities varied according to time of day (P < 0.05). Learning and e-commerce activities by clinical medical students did not vary by day of the week (P > 0.05), but the distributions of leisure and entertainment activities were different according to day of the week (P < 0.05).


A stronger demand for learning is associated with a higher academic level of clinical medical students. Differences exist among student groups regarding internet use behaviors and internet use during different time periods.