May 19, 2022

New Research Article: “Mobile Devices in Medicine: A Survey of How Medical Students, Residents, and Faculty Use Smartphones and Other Mobile Devices to Find Information”

The following full text article appears in the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA), January 2014; Vol. 102, No. 1.


Mobile Devices in Medicine: A Survey of How Medical Students, Residents, and Faculty Use Smartphones and Other Mobile Devices to Find Information


Jill T. Boruff
McGill University

Dale Storie
University of Alberta


Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA)
January 2014;  Vol. 102 No. 1.



The research investigated the extent to which students, residents, and faculty members in Canadian medical faculties use mobile devices, such as smartphones (e.g., iPhone, Android, Blackberry) and tablet computers (e.g., iPad), to answer clinical questions and find medical information. The results of this study will inform how health libraries can effectively support mobile technology and collections.


An electronic survey was distributed by medical librarians at four Canadian universities to medical students, residents, and faculty members via departmental email discussion lists, personal contacts, and relevant websites. It investigated the types of information sought, facilitators to mobile device use in medical information seeking, barriers to access, support needs, familiarity with institutionally licensed resources, and most frequently used resources.


The survey of 1,210 respondents indicated widespread use of smartphones and tablets in clinical settings in 4 Canadian universities. Third- and fourth-year undergraduate students (i.e., those in their clinical clerkships) and medical residents, compared to other graduate students and faculty, used their mobile devices more often, used them for a broader range of activities, and purchased more resources for their devices.


Technological and intellectual barriers do not seem to prevent medical trainees and faculty from regularly using mobile devices for their medical information searches; however, barriers to access and lack of awareness might keep them from using reliable, library-licensed resources.


Libraries should focus on providing access to a smaller number of highly used mobile resources instead of a huge collection until library-licensed mobile resources have streamlined authentication processes.

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Supplementary Materials (Survey and Two Tables)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.