Medical information in the internet age: Research highlighting the information needs of neurologists and the resources they use to manage complex diseases such as migraine and multiple sclerosis

Source: Ceiba Pty Ltd/ Image created by the authors

An Italian project, developed through the support of TEVA Italia, a company constantly focused on the needs of health care professionals.


Assago, March 2020 — The results of a research on the behavior of Italian neurologists seeking useful information and resources on migraine and multiple sclerosis management have been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. This research was developed by TEVA Italia Medical Information Department in collaboration with Doxa Pharma.


Working in a rapidly changing environment, specialists need to have in-depth and continuously updated knowledge of the latest scientific data. This allows them to implement appropriate therapeutic strategies and offer the best patient care. In this context, the exponential increase of available resources due to the online information explosion make it easier to access up-to-date data. In addition, this growth in information availability has created a need for wiser and more attentive evaluation of source quality and authoritativeness.


The research involved a sample of 50 Italian neurologists, divided into two equal groups of migraine (n=25) and multiple sclerosis (n=25) specialists. A qualitative and quantitative investigative methodology was employed using a mobile instant-messaging app.
Using this app, moderators interacted with and continuously monitored the specialists for 15 consecutive days to collect real-time data on their information needs and the related resources they used during their daily clinical activity.


Coding and analysis of the information revealed the following findings.

  • The most researched topics among the specialists were related to therapy management (representing 71% of their indicated information needs), drug-related information (67%), and diagnostic procedures (42%). Doctors’ ability to find needed information on these issues has a direct and significant impact on the health of their patients.
  • Online sources are preferred and were used in 96% of searches, while offline sources were used only 47% of the time. However, a notable 33% of cases used a multichannel approach, resorting to both online and offline resources to meet their information needs. Based on the type of information required, specialists selected the source they considered most appropriate. They often used common search engines to get quicker answers. In doing this, however, they lamented having greater difficulty in assessing the quality and reliability of online information.
  • Differences emerged between the specializations. Migraine experts more frequently looked for information on drugs and therapies as compared to their multiple sclerosis counterparts. The migraine experts were also less satisfied on average with the quality of retrieved information, particularly for offline sources.


The key results emerging from the research show that specialists working in different areas have different information needs due to the varied and evolving therapeutic landscapes they work within.

To allow doctors to provide the best patient care, easy access to consistent, up-to-date, dedicated, and accurate information by specific therapy area is essential.


To this end, Teva Italia created a specific website for health care professionals. This site aims to provide quick access to quality information that includes reliable and continually updated articles from the literature and scientific information on Teva’s therapeutic areas of interest.

TEVA Italy is committed to constantly putting people at the centre of all their activities and the aim of this research has been to better understand the information needs of medical specialists, especially, neurologists. Very strong needs for reliable information emerged from the research, particularly on drug therapies. This encourages us to promote the role our company and Medical Department, in particular, as a trusted information provider, promptly responding to the questions of healthcare professionals. This is what allows them to provide the best patient care,” says Dr Mario Cepparulo, the Italian Cluster Medical Director at Teva Italia.



Silvia Demergazzi  ·


Luca Pastore


Silvia Demergazzi

Original article

Demergazzi S, Pastore L, Bassani G, Arosio M, Lonati C. Information Needs and Information-Seeking Behavior of Italian Neurologists: Exploratory Mixed Methods Study. J Med Internet Res 2020;22(3):e14979.


doi: 10.2196/1497

PMID: 32181742

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