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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 13-16

Academic use and attitude of the 1st year medical students toward smartphones in a North Indian city


1 Department of Anatomy, Pt. B.D. Sharma PGIMS, Rohtak 124 001, Haryana, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Pt. B.D. Sharma PGIMS, Rohtak 124 001, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication11-May-2016

Correspondence Address:
Ravi Rohilla
353, Sector-14, PGIMS, Rohtak 124 001, Haryana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2226-8561.182293

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  Abstract 

Objective: Smartphones have evolved from luxury to essential need items in general population nowadays. iOS by Apple, Android by Google, Windows by Microsoft and Blackberry account for the majority of smartphone operating system which are currently in use today. Materials and Methods: The present study was done among 350 students of medical, dental, nursing and physiotherapy streams to know the prevalence of smartphone use and attitude towards its use. Of the 350 students enrolled in the study, 257 completed the questionnaire with a response rate of 73.4%. Results: Out of 222, 198 had android devices, 13 had iPhones, and 11 had other operating systems including Windows and Blackberry. 191 (74.3%) of the subjects had a working email account. Conclusion: First year students have positive perception towards smartphone use and medical schools should encourage the use of medical applications among them. However, students and medical professionals should be cautious of the negative issues with smartphone use.

Keywords: Applications, Internet, knowledge, smartphones


How to cite this article:
Rohilla J, Rohilla R, Rohilla A, Singh K. Academic use and attitude of the 1st year medical students toward smartphones in a North Indian city. Digit Med 2016;2:13-6

How to cite this URL:
Rohilla J, Rohilla R, Rohilla A, Singh K. Academic use and attitude of the 1st year medical students toward smartphones in a North Indian city. Digit Med [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Jan 17];2:13-6. Available from: http://www.digitmedicine.com/text.asp?2016/2/1/13/182293


  Introduction Top


The first smartphone of the world was introduced in 1994, and its use is ever increasing since then.[1] Without doubt, the use of smartphones has become a mode of digital literacy. A smartphone is a cellular phone with an integrated computer capable of performing a wide array of tasks which were conventionally not associated with a cellular phone.[2] The present day smartphones have high-resolution cameras, internet, and wireless connectivity with multimedia capability. Smartphones have evolved from luxury to essential need items in general population nowadays. iOS by Apple, Android by Google, and Windows by Microsoft and Blackberry account for the majority of smartphone operating systems which are currently in use. All the leading models offer internet access and good quality camera.[3]

As per an Epocrates survey, more than 40% of the medical students indicated that they used smartphone medical apps as the first source of reference.[4] The factors which determined the increased use of smartphone were cost, convenience of use, coverage, and utility. The types of medical apps looked upon by medical students fall into category of clinical reference, drug reference, diagnosis aid, and medical calculators.[5] An estimated 80% of physicians use smartphones.[6] However, the prevalence of smartphone use for academic purpose among medical students is unknown. The purpose of this study was to objectively investigate whether and up to what extent the 1st year students (medical, dental, nursing, physiotherapy) use their smartphones as learning tools in their college education. In addition, the subjective attitude of students toward smartphones as learning tools was also investigated.


  Materials and Methods Top


A questionnaire was formulated which identified the incidence of smartphone use among the students and their attitude toward the smartphone use as a learning tool. The questionnaire had two parts: (1) Demographics which included age, gender, owning a mobile phone, and E-mail account. (2) Usage of smartphone and attitude toward its use among students.

Study sample and participants

A total of 350 1st year students from various streams, i.e., medical (150), dental (50), nursing (100), and physiotherapy (50) students were enrolled for the study.

Study design and period

A cross-sectional survey study was conducted among the 1st year students of government medical university situated at Rohtak City, Haryana. A written consent was taken from the participants before the commencement of the study. Study was conducted in November and December 2015.

Study protocol

The objectives of the study were explained verbally to the students. Participation in the study was voluntary and each student was allowed 15 min to complete the questionnaire anonymously. For clarity, phones devoid of camera, internet connectivity, and downloadable apps were not considered as smartphones. Furthermore, tablets were excluded to avoid disparity and comparability.

Statistical analysis

Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 20.0. (Armonk, NY: IBM Corp) and represented as simple mean and proportions.


  Results Top


Of the 350 students enrolled in the study, 257 completed the questionnaire with a response rate of 73.4%. The mean age of study participants was 18.9 ± 0.9 years. Out of 257 participants, 87 (33.9%) were male and 170 were female (66.1%). From all those owning mobile phones (100%), a total of 222 (86.4%) participants owned smartphones out of total 257. Out of 222, 198 (89.2%) had Android devices, 13 (5.7%) had iPhones, and 11 (4.9%) had other operating systems including Windows and Blackberry [Figure 1]. One hundred and ninety-one (74.3%) of the subjects had a working E-mail account.
Figure 1: The smartphone operating system used by students

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Of those owning smartphones, 158 (71.2%) said that they carry it regularly (at least 4 days a week) to college. Two hundred and one (90.5%) of the respondents said that they use it for academic purposes in the college or at hostel/home. Of the 201 students, 114 (56.7%) said that they use it every day for this purpose and 87 (43.3%) said that they use it for this purpose less than everyday but at least once a week. One hundred and sixty-seven of the respondents used smartphone camera for academic purposes (75.2%). One hundred and forty-nine (67.1%) students said that they used online resources (such as Google) more frequently than preinstalled apps, whereas 73 (32.9%) said that they used preinstalled apps more. Most common apps used were Anatomy 3D, Muscles 3D, and Physiology 3D. Biochemistry app was used only by two students.

Two hundred and fourteen (96.3%) out of 222 said that they feel better equipped with knowledge at hand when carrying a smartphone. More than 40% of the respondents said that knowledge provided has some pitfalls whereas 126 (56.7%) students did not agree to it. About one-third (34.2%) of the participants said that conventional textbooks were superior to e-books or online resources. More than half of the respondents (53.6%) claimed that smartphones are a source of nuisance during the study period [Table 1].
Table 1: Various characteristics of smartphones use among study subjects

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  Discussion Top


Technology has taken a giant leap in the various spheres of life. Education is no different area which is left untouched by it. Internet connectivity and handheld devices further simplified the learning mechanisms. Since medical field is an ever evolving area, technology is here to stay.

The majority of the 1st year students had smartphone devices (86.4%) with medical, dental, nursing, and physiotherapy students 94.9%, 100%, 64.8%, and 85.7%, respectively. The low prevalence of smartphone access among nursing students might be attributed to low purchasing power among them and their feeling of its use. Koh and Wan also reported a similar prevalence (87.7%) of smartphone use by the 1st year medical students in Malaysia [7] whereas in the United Kingdom and Australia, it was 79% and 77%, respectively.[8],[9]

In our study, Android-based devices were used by the most smartphone users followed by Apple iOS. Android devices are fairly cheap and easy to use as compared to other devices which amount to its popularity among students. On the other hand, Wallace et al. reported that 90% of the medical residents were using iPhone.[10] Payne et al.[8] also reported that higher prevalence (56.6%) of medical students owned an iPhone whereas Android users constituted 18.7% only. This might be due to better purchasing power among the residents, low cost, and preferential liking for iPhone.

In the present study, subjects reported that applications for anatomy subjects were used most commonly as compared to physiology or biochemistry. Anatomy is considered to be a tougher subject among the 1st year student which requires more of orientation and understanding as compared to other subjects.

About 96.3% of the respondents felt well equipped with knowledge when carrying a smartphone. This might be explained by the fact that internet connectivity provides instant answers to the queries posed by students and also quick revision, especially when not carrying a textbook. In the present study, 65.8% of subjects did not find electronic documents such as e-books superior to conventional textbooks. This might be attributed to small text size in mobile devices and also greater concentration needed for reading e-books. Haseeb et al. in a study among medical residents also reported similar findings.[11] However, Koh and Wan reported that medical students appeared uncertain whether medical applications were superior or inferior to medical books.[7] Smartphones can act as a source of nuisance too as depicted in the present study because frequent notifications by applications and more use of social networking apps lead to disturbance, especially during study hours.

The present study aimed to assess the availability of digital medical knowledge through smartphones by the 1st year students at a medical university. It might be assumed that students are well versed with smartphone technology and its use for knowledge and learning through online resources or applications. Cellular phones have evolved into smartphones with greater use in education and learning with high omnipresence and accessibility. Further research is being warranted among elder students and medical residents to know smartphone use for clinical and drug references, diagnosis aid, learning the steps of surgery, and memorizing the classification tables.

Since the study was only limited to the 1st year students and the ownership, attitude of senior medical students may change as they gain more knowledge in due course. In addition, the applications downloaded by students are different as attitude of streams toward subjects is different, i.e., medical, dental, nursing, etc.


  Conclusion Top


The present study found that smartphone usage among students (medical, dental, nursing, and physiotherapy) was high and utility of smartphones cannot be over-emphasized. First-year students have positive perception toward smartphone use and medical schools should encourage the use of medical applications among them. However, students and medical professionals should be cautious of the negative issues associated with smartphone use and the fact that smartphones supplements the medical/clinical knowledge and understanding but do not replace it.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Boulos MN, Wheeler S, Tavares C, Jones R. How smartphones are changing the face of mobile and participatory healthcare: An overview, with example from eCAALYX. Biomed Eng Online 2011;10:24.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Franko OI. Smartphone apps for orthopaedic surgeons. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2011;469:2042-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
O'Neill S, Brady RR. Colorectal smartphone apps: Opportunities and risks. Colorectal Dis 2012;14:e530-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Epocrates invests in future physicians. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2016 Jan 21].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Beauford J. What smartphone apps are medical students using? Doctors in Training [Internet]; 2013. Available from: . [Last cited on 2016 April 14].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Manhattan Research. Smart Phones, Tablets and Mobile Marketing. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2016 Jan 21].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Koh KC, Wan JK. Medical students' perceptions regarding the impact of mobile medical applications on their clinical practice. J Mob Technol Med 2014;3:46-53.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Payne KB, Wharrad H, Watts K. Smartphone and medical related App use among medical students and junior doctors in the United Kingdom (UK): A regional survey. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 2012;12:121.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Koehler N, Yao K, Vujovic O, McMenamin C. Medical students' use of and attitudes towards medical applications. Journal Mob Technol Med. 2012;1:16-21.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Wallace S, Clark M, White J. 'It's on my iPhone': Attitudes to the use of mobile computing devices in medical education, a mixed-methods study. BMJ Open 2012;2. pii: e001099.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Haseeb M, Altaf MT, Kour A, Ahmed F, Jahan A, Bijyal A. Clinical and academic uses of smartphones among medical residents. Digit Med 2015;1:34-7.  Back to cited text no. 11
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