For MDs, Google outpaces professional search engines

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Even among physicians, Dr. Google reigns supreme. Double the number of MDs used the consumer search engine (87%) for professional research online as the next most-used search options (WebMD and PubMed, each at 43%), data from a recent survey show.

Google was one of six consumer search options (out of 12 that were mentioned in the survey) drawing a significant amount of physician usage; each of the search engines was tapped by an average of 23% of doctors. That's the same average percentage as that of the six medical sites, researchers from Kantar Media found.

The data come from Kantar's Sources & Interactions 2011 survey, a study of healthcare professionals' touch points with pharma and professional media. In the physicians study, 2,983 US-based physicians were surveyed by mail and online during the first half of 2011 to document what professional sources of information they rely on.

Kantar also found wide variations in reported usage based on specialty, age and other demographic factors. Google and Yahoo! were consistent performers across most groups, Kantar said, generally within a two- or three-point range of average. For the other sites, usage varied. According to the study,  only 29% of family medicine doctors rely on PubMed, while 77% of infectious disease specialists do.

Older users tended to gravitate toward PubMed and Google Scholar, while the younger set more often tapped general search engines Yahoo! and Bing, as well as WebMD and MDLinx.
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