A Longitudinal Cross-sectional Analysis of Information Needs of Rural Health Care Providers

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Objective: This longitudinal cross-sectional study was designed to give a picture of the Northeast Tennessee rural health care providers’ information needs.

Methods: The population of this study was the health care providers in Northeast Tennessee outside the TriCities urban area. It is in the 15-county service area of the East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine Library’s outreach and includes no one from a community larger than 25,000. The names of physicians were gathered from the Tennessee State Licensing Verification Database and personal knowledge of the librarians. The surveys were administered to registered nurses (RNs) from a list from the Tennessee Center for Nursing. A P=0.05 was obtained. The questionnaires were sent out by mail with a self-addressed stamped envelope. A cutoff date was set for 2 weeks for the return of the surveys. Surveys that came in after the cutoff date were accepted up to 1 month. A cover letter was included to explain the purpose of the survey. The data were analyzed in terms of central tendencies and dispersions of distributions. The data are displayed in the report by means of frequencies and percentages.

Results: This study compared rural information needs and practices in the same geographic area twelve years apart. This has given valuable information as to how the information needs and practices of this group have changed. This study will enable the librarians to change their outreach strategies to reflect the new reality.

Conclusions: Our purposes as medical librarians do not change. However, the environment of our service changes constantly. Longitudinal cross-sectional studies give the opportunity to obtain “snapshots” of a service environment to see how they change over time


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