Research commissioned by Cancer Research UK with nfpSynergy amongst primary care doctors and nurses in the UK reveals insights about preferred online and offline engagement channels that are highly relevant for all health stakeholders.

The most popular way of keeping up to date with conditions and treatments, indicated by 79% of doctors  as one of their preferred methods, is ‘Internet resources, e.g. Doctors.net.uk, OnMedica, EMIS Mentor, websites of colleagues such as RCGP and RCN’. Interestingly amongst nurses this category was the second favourite method, with offline channel ‘Local/national study days, courses and conferences’ ranking top.

Respondents indicated a low level of preference for not-for-profit organizations or charities as sources of knowledge. ‘Charity websites’ was selected by 4% of doctors as their preferred method of keeping up to date with conditions and treatments; ‘Contact with a condition-specific charity’ just 3%. This is even lower than ‘Visits from pharmaceutical reps’ which was selected by just 12% of doctors.

Doctors & nurses preferred channels for knowledgePreferred methods of updating knowledge
Participants were asked “There are many ways in which healthcare professionals keep up to date with conditions and treatments. Which of the following are your preferred methods, if any? Please choose up to 3.”
Source: nfpSynergy Primary Healthcare Professionals Monitor September 2010 research commissioned by Cancer Research UK.

Amongst websites used by doctors, Doctors.net.uk ranked as the preferred website for frequent use by a significant lead, with 91% of respondents indicating that they visit the site daily or a few times a week. By contrast 28% of doctors indicated that they never visit the next most popular website in the survey, The British Medical Journal, although 6% of doctors said they receive the BMJ medical email bulletin.

Professional website use amongst doctors & nurses

Professional website use.
Participants were asked
“How often do you visit the following websites, if at all?”
Source: nfpSynergy Primary Healthcare Professionals Monitor September 2010 research commissioned by Cancer Research UK.

Offline, however, when asked ‘How often do you read the following magazines and journals, if at all?’, 55% of doctors indicated that they read most or every issue of the British Medical Journal publication whilst for weekly GP newspaper Pulse this figure was 53%.

The research was carried out amongst doctors (n=200) and nurses (n=200) during August 2010 and related to a number of areas including preferred methods of updating knowledge about conditions, and media consumption.

It is worth noting that the survey was carried out by an online questionnaire, which may explain some of the preference for online communications channels. But respondents were by no means ‘digital natives’ (people for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born and have grown up with technologies such as computers, Internet and mobile phones); 12% of the GPs who took part qualified pre 1980, whilst 48% qualified before 1990.


Creation Healthcare is a worldwide healthcare engagement strategy consultancy based in London and Tokyo, with specialist consultants in fifteen countries providing local insights to inform global strategies. The consultancy has worked with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations since the late 1990’s.

If you would like to engage healthcare professionals more effectively using emerging challens, contact us now for a conversation about how we can help you.