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Open Access Research article

Group differences in physician responses to handheld presentation of clinical evidence: a verbal protocol analysis

Danielle M Lottridge1*, Mark Chignell1, Romana Danicic-Mizdrak2, Nada J Pavlovic1, Andre Kushniruk3 and Sharon E Straus4

Author Affiliations

1 Dept. of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

2 University Health Network, Toronto, Canada

3 School of Health Information Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada

4 Dept. of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2007, 7:22  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-7-22

Published: 26 July 2007

Abstract

Background

To identify individual differences in physicians' needs for the presentation of evidence resources and preferences for mobile devices.

Methods

Within-groups analysis of responses to semi-structured interviews. Interviews consisted of using prototypes in response to task-based scenarios. The prototypes were implemented on two different form factors: a tablet style PC and a pocketPC. Participants were from three user groups: general internists, family physicians and medicine residents, and from two different settings: urban and semi-urban. Verbal protocol analysis, which consists of coding utterances, was conducted on the transcripts of the testing sessions. Statistical relationships were investigated between staff physicians' and residents' background variables, self-reported experiences with the interfaces, and verbal code frequencies.

Results

47 physicians were recruited from general internal medicine, family practice clinics and a residency training program. The mean age of participants was 42.6 years. Physician specialty had a greater effect on device and information-presentation preferences than gender, age, setting or previous technical experience. Family physicians preferred the screen size of the tablet computer and were less concerned about its portability. Residents liked the screen size of the tablet, but preferred the portability of the pocketPC. Internists liked the portability of the pocketPC, but saw less advantage to the large screen of the tablet computer (F[2,44] = 4.94, p = .012).

Conclusion

Different types of physicians have different needs and preferences for evidence-based resources and handheld devices. This study shows how user testing can be incorporated into the process of design to inform group-based customization.