Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Information Sciences

Major Professor

Brian J Dobreski

Committee Members

Tenopir, Carol; Dobreski, Brian; Earl, Martha; Dixson, Melanie


The purpose of this research study is to investigate and assess whether medical librarians, clinical medical librarians, medical informationists, etc. (referred to collectively as “medical librarians”) have an obligation beyond their particular institutional role to, or aspirationally should, provide the public with medical literature that has the potential to improve an individual’s health or the public health. The survey will examine the opinions of members of the United States (U.S.) public regarding the practices of medical librarians as these practices pertain to health promotion, patient care, medical education, and clinical research.

The research design for this study is a single-phase quantitative perspective (Creswell, 2006 Joyner et al., 2013). Quantitative data was collected in a survey (Joyner et al., 2013; Visser et al., 2000). The study had a total of 415 viable responses.

Overall, the researcher believes that the most significant findings pertained to the education and gender gaps. 51.8% of participants with less than a bachelor’s degree are aware of medical librarians, while 74.5% with a bachelor’s degree or higher reported awareness. Perhaps the individuals who need the most help navigating the complex U.S. health system are unaware of a potentially valuable resource. 41.1% of participants identifying as male have consulted a medical librarian for their own or for their family members’ health information-seeking needs while only 18.2% of respondents identifying as female have done so. No significant difference in the means of the two genders presented with regard to willingness to consult a medical librarian. This suggests that attempts should be made to increase consultations with women.

Medical librarians are responding with initiatives to decrease the substantial inequality in information accessibility and health literacy of U.S. individuals. The work of these professionals is important, and the data resulting from this study indicates a positive public perception of medical librarians. However, it also suggests their work might not be visible to, and that there may be a gap in trust for, those who might require the services of medical librarians the most.

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