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Int J Med Inform. 2010 Aug;79(8):539-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2010.05.003. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

eHealth usage patterns of European general practitioners: a five-year (2002-2007) comparative study.

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Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Almería, Carretera de Sacramento s/n. La Cañada de San Urbano, 04120 Almería, Spain.



This paper provides a five-year (2002-2007) comparative segmentation analysis of how the Internet and dedicated health networks are used by European general practitioners (GPs) and the extent to which external factors affect their use of various eHealth services.


Two cross-national sets of survey data collected in 2002 (n=3512) and 2007 (n=3948) have been analyzed. These databases provide information on physicians' eHealth uses in EU-15 countries, including sociodemographic indicators such as country, age, sex, location, and size of the medical practice.


A total of 3512 and 3948 physicians, respectively, participated in the 2002 and 2007 studies. The percentage of GPs accessing the Internet or a dedicated health network increased from 64.5% in 2002 to 77.1% in 2007. Only these physicians were included in the latent class cluster analyses performed on both datasets, yielding three segments of eHealth users plus a group of non-Internet users. Thus, the following four final segments were identified in the years 2002 and 2007: 'Information Searchers/Average Users', 'Advanced Users/Adv. Users (ePrescribers)', 'Laggards', and 'Non-Internet Users'. Contingency table analyses relating external indicators to physicians' usage patterns of eHealth services confirmed strong country differences, low to moderate age influences reflecting a cohort effect, and moderate effects of practice size, both in 2002 and 2007. Conversely, very weak influences were observed for physicians' sex and location of the medical practice.


A positive evolution is clearly observable in European primary care physicians' use of eHealth, mainly with regard to online medical information searches, use of electronic health care records, and (to a lesser extent) electronic transfers of patient data. The international comparative profiling of European GPs' eHealth usage patterns contributes to more efficient and continually adapted promotion strategies, aimed at fostering the diffusion of eHealth applications among medical professionals of the analyzed EU-15 countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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