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Nurses’ and midwives’ information behaviour: a review of literature from 1998 to 2014

Catherine Ebenezer (Information School ,University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 9 March 2015



This paper aims to provide an overview of recent literature on nurses’ and midwives’ information behaviour, with a particular focus on sources used and barriers encountered.


Comprehensive searching was undertaken and an analysis of the appropriate literature carried out.


Practitioners within the nursing profession have a marked preference for interactive and human sources of information. They habitually associate information seeking with professional development rather than with clinical practice. Lack of time is the most frequently reported problem; also, they frequently lack confidence in searching and appraising the professional literature and in applying research in practice. Cultural factors may inhibit information seeking in the workplace, and access to appropriate information technology may be limited.

Practical implications

As a group, nurses and midwives present significant challenges to health library and information professionals seeking to design services to meet their needs. A perceived lack of access to information resources may be associated with pervasive information literacy skill deficits, with the inability to undertake critical appraisal of material that is retrieved, or with the lack of a workplace culture that is supportive of information seeking. To reach nurses and midwives, more than diligent marketing is required; library and information professionals need to work closely with the holders of nursing and midwifery research, practice development and educational roles within their institutions on “embedded”, specific information initiatives.


An overview of recent work is presented on the information behaviour of nurses and midwives within developed economies, focusing particularly on the UK. It may be of interest and value to health librarians and to nursing and midwifery educators in facilitating evidence-based practice.



The author wishes to acknowledge the support of Professor Peter Bath and Dr Stephen Pinfield, her supervisors at the University of Sheffield, in the research of which this literature review formed a part.


Ebenezer, C. (2015), "Nurses’ and midwives’ information behaviour: a review of literature from 1998 to 2014", New Library World, Vol. 116 No. 3/4, pp. 155-172.



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