A survey on internet usage and online learning behaviour among medical undergraduates

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Abstract

Aim

To determine the magnitude and pattern of internet usage by undergraduate medical students to retrieve medical information.

Materials and methods

A pretested questionnaire-based survey was conducted among undergraduate medical students who were willing to participate. The institute ethics committee approved the study. The responses of students to the questionnaire were analysed using VassarStats online statistical programme. Categorical variables were expressed as proportions. To determine the significance of the difference between proportions, the χ2 test or Fisher's exact test was used. Log-linear analysis was performed for significance of association among interacting variables. A p value <0.05 was considered significant.

Results

A total of 115 undergraduate medical students participated in the survey. The response was 100% and involved mainly IX and VIII semester students. Internet usage was found to be 97.4%. Of the students interviewed, 35.7% were frequent internet users and 57.4% used their mobile phones to access the internet. The majority (60.9%) had their own portable 3G internet connection. Monthly expenditure for the majority (82.6%) was less than 1000 Indian Rupees per month. The most popular medical site accessed by students was Medscape, followed by Wikipedia and WebMD. Of the students studied, 8% had attended one or more online continuing medical education programmes. On log-linear analysis, a linear relationship was found for medical time and social time.

Conclusions

An encouraging trend is seen in the use of the internet by medical students to access medical information, but this has not translated into improved online learning behaviour.

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