Using email as a research tool in general practice: starting to implement the National Service Framework for Mental Health.

Birmingham Clinical Governance Unit, Birmingham, UK.
Informatics in primary care 02/2003; 11(1):27-31.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The first primary care trust milestone for implementation of Standard 2 of the National Service Framework for Mental Health is the use of a formal diagnostic approach to the assessment of the severity of common psychiatric illnesses. Whilst developing a diagnostic tool to assess depressive symptoms, based on the ICD-10 classification of disease, we surveyed the current usage of such diagnostic aids by general practitioners (GPs) in Birmingham. According to the Birmingham Health Authority IT Directorate, 477 GP principals in the city had personal access to email at their practices through the NHSnet.
All GPs were sent a short questionnaire by email. They were asked to indicate their responses to four yes/no answers and return the email by pressing the 'Reply' icon. Non-respondents were then sent the questionnaire by post.
We had a total response rate of 67%. We received an email response from 105 GPs, or 22%. A further 216 out of a possible 372 GPs (58%) then responded by post. Forty-seven (22%) of the postal respondents had received the email, but 38 of them had problems replying; 150 (69%) said that they had never seen the email.
The overall response rate to the questionnaire suggests that the topic was considered sufficiently relevant for GPs to reply and was not the reason for the poor email response. There were no obvious differences in the answers to the questionnaire to suggest that the mental health topic had identified a separate email-using GP population. Although four out of every five Birmingham GPs have access to email, only one in five feels confident or competent to use it as a regular means of professional communication. It is not yet appropriate to use email as the only conduit for obtaining GP opinion.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Exchanging information and building communication channels are critical ingredients of biomedical education and research. Collaboration tools can help researchers work in harmony and learn together at a distance. This category spans a wide variety of applications from simple text-based e-mail clients to complex online meeting tools. E-mail is the oldest, most widely used, and effective collaboration tool. Online discussions go by various formats and names such as discussion groups, bulletin boards, and discussion forums. The Internet and web technologies have the potential to increase the productivity of biomedical research. The Internet collaboratories can support expensive equipment to address complex problems, which can speed up discovery and innovation in research. Having the right tools and technology is a necessary foundation and building a community needs conscious effort among website designers, community promoters, and leaders. Integrating electronic collaborative tools into routine scientific practice can be successful but requires further research.
    12/2007: pages 759-762;