Internet Use and Advanced Practice Oncology Nursing

Joshua Fogel, PhD

Disclosures

Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2002;2(4) 

In This Article

Internet Resources

The Internet allows individuals to seek information from Web sites and search databases for relevant information. After subscribing to an Internet provider and completing the procedures to log on to the Internet, a search engine can be chosen to locate material on the World Wide Web. Search engines are computer software used to search data (as text or a database) for specified information.[10] Some search engines, such as Yahoo or Google, operate by searching for a word or combination of words, while another site, Ask Jeeves, allows one to search in the form of a question, word, or phrase. Once a Web site of interest is located, that Web site may contain a database that allows for searches from within its holdings for information on a particular topic in a similar way one would use a search engine to locate information from the World Wide Web (eg, PubMed).

Many types of informational experiences can be accessed through the World Wide Web. Web sites may simply offer information or even allow one to take a course on a particular topic or purchase products. Microsoft Internet Explorer is a Web browser that contains an interesting feature. After finding a Web site of interest (of any type), one can click on "Tools" on the Microsoft toolbar and then "Show Related Links" to obtain links to other Web sites that are relevant to the original Web site displayed on the computer screen.

Many professional organizations have Web sites offering general information, news, and access to their publications via their Web site (eg, Oncology Nursing Society).

Other options available through Internet use include communication through email, listservs, news groups, chat rooms, and online support groups. This can occur at regularly scheduled times with real-time interactive conversations (synchronous) or at delayed times (asynchronous). For example, a real-time online interactive discussion group called a chat room[10] can focus on a particular topic. Email, listservs, and news groups[10] are asynchronous in that they are designed to allow one to read a message at a point in time after it was sent, similar to reading postal mail at one's own convenience. Online support groups may be designed as synchronous or asynchronous.

Individuals can access information rapidly without having to go to a medical library to research topics of interest, as information is now available with quick typing at a computer keyboard. Clinical practice guidelines are readily available from institutions such as The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and American Society of Clinical Oncology.

There is also is an increased emphasis on the use of evidence-based medicine for clinical decision-making and treatment recommendations. The key distinction between evidence-based medicine and traditional medicine is that with evidence-based medicine, there is a structured process to help patients and clinicians determine the best available interventions for their health outcomes. Before the advent of large electronic databases in the early 1990s, it was difficult to regularly search for the latest information. This has changed with the advent of the Internet.[11]

One helpful Web resource to obtain the latest evidence-based medicine information is the Cochrane Collaboration and its related consumer-information Web site. The consumer-oriented site is the leading evidence-based clinical guideline Web site that encourages consumers to search for recent reviews on health information topics. A summary of each review is shown on the Web site, and consumers can read the comprehensive review by perusing the relevant reference in the Cochrane Library (not provided on that site and only available by subscription).

Medical, nursing, and other health profession journals, in both print forms and the newer online e-journals (ie, this journal), are increasingly available with full text of articles online. Online publications are usually available with a subscription, a registration process at a cost, or in some cases free of charge. Online articles may be accessed multiple ways: through the journal's own Web site, through the parent organization or publisher's Web site, or through a commercial or library database. For those journal articles requiring a subscription, the abstract of the article is often available on Web sites and databases at no charge. By searching on the database PubMed for a topic, journal, or article, a link is provided for purchasing the full text articles of interest. Many universities and hospitals have online versions of the print journals they subscribe to available for their students and employees free of charge. In addition, the site Free Medical Journals can be used to access many free medical and nursing journals.

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