JCDR - Register at Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research
Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, ISSN - 0973 - 709X
Original Article DOI : 10.7860/JCDR/2013/5891.3092
Year : 2013 | Month : Jun | Volume : 7 | Issue : 6 Full Version Page : 1105 - 1108

Computer and Internet Utilization among the Medical Students in Qassim University, Saudi Arabia

Yousef Homood Aldebasi1, Mohamed Issa Ahmed2

1 Department of Optometry, College of Applied Medical Sciences, Qassim UniversityKingdom of Saudi Arabia.
2 Department of Medical Laboratories, College of Applied Medical Sciences, Qassim University, P.O. Box: 6699, Buraidah 41452, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

NAME, ADDRES, E-MAIL ID OF THE CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dr. Mohamed Issa Ahmed, Department of Medical Laboratories, College of Applied Medical Sciences, Qassim University, P.O. Box: 6699, Buraidah 51452, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Phone: 0557267971
E-mail: zkriea@qu.edu.sa

Background: Computer-based training (CBT) and internet-based training (IBT) have become a vital part of the Medical Education. A cross-divtional study was carried out in Qassim University-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), with the objective of assessing the pattern of the computer and Internet utilization among both male and female medical students.

Methods: A total of 500 medical students from 4 different medical colleges of Qassim University participated in this study. A semi-structured, pre-tested questionnaire was used to collect the data and the data analysis was done by using SPSS, Version 17.

Results: Forty two percent female and twenty four percent male students used computers to get general information, 80% of the students reported using computers for academic activities and 52% females and 22% males used computers for entertainment. Most of the females preferred using computers at home (84%), while 54% males used computers at cyber cafés. For the information retrieval, 84% males used the internet, followed by journals/library (36%) and textbooks (35%), while the females preferred textbooks (75%) and the internet (14%). Google was found to be most commonly used search engine.

Conclusion: The internet creates an educational delivery system; it is highly needed to increase the credit hours for the university requirement courses in computer application and the internet use for both among the male and female students.



With the rapid developments in modern science and technology, the information network technology has blazed a trail in our learning, work and lives. Computers are used for a wide range of functions in medical education, which range from simple drill and practice applications and computer based lectures to more advanced simulations and intelligent tutoring systems [1] The internet, one of the important scientific developments in the medical field, provides a wealth of information with respect to diseases, therapeutic procedures and pharmaceutical products [2]. It has a lower cost as compared to the paper based dissemination of information and it also has an added advantage of being available worldwide instantly on demand. Therefore, there is a need, not only to make the internet facility available in the institutions which provide medical education and health care, but also to equip the medical internet centre with adequate skills for the use of the internet. In the wake of the fast development of the network construction in universities, the number of internet-using university students is increasing. Biological researchers and scientists are increasingly becoming more and more dependent upon computers to manage the generated information [3]. The internet has become the world’s biggest library, where the retrieval of scientific resources can be done within minutes [4].

The institutions of higher learning are the main bodies which cultivate and educate the university students. In response to the tremendous impact of the internet on the university students, many universities have taken various counter-measures. However, the diversity of the students’ internet behaviours and their features make the counter-measures lack the target and they lower the education efficiency. For providing internet access to the medical students of Qassim University, an “Internet Cafe” was opened in the library campus. It remains open from 8.00 AM to 2.00 PM daily and it is open for all the undergraduate medical students free of cost. The utilization of such internet facilities in a University would depend upon the percentage of the students/residents who know how to operate a computer as well as the quality of the services which are provided in the facility. Therefore, the current study was carried out to find out the use of computers and the internet and the purpose of using the internet among the students of Qassim University.


The present cross sectional study was carried out at Qassim University among the students of the College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing and the College of Applied Medical Sciences, who included male and female students, during Jan. 2012 to April 2012. The students who were enrolled at all the levels were selected randomly for their participations after taking informed, verbal and written consents by using a self-explained, pre-structured, pre-designed and a pre-tested questionnaire. A total of 500 study subjects were purposively enrolled, who included 400 males and 100 females. The data was collected from the students during their weekly lectures. Information was collected regarding their ages, sexes, the use of computers and internet services and the purpose of using the internet. The data was analyzed by using SPSS, version 17.0. The Chi-square test was used to find out the statistical significance of the differences in the proportions. A p-value of <0.05 was considered to be significant.


The demographic profiles of the students have been described in [Table/Fig-1], which show that the maximum number of students who participated in the study were of the age group of 19-21 years, with a male proximity [Table/Fig-1]. About 80% of the male students and 20% of the female students were reported to use computers. However, a majority (53%) of the male students took assistance (p<0.0001); whereas, 35% of the male students used the computers on their own [Table/Fig-2]. A majority of the female students used computers for entertainment than for gaining general information whereas, the male students used computers mainly for thesis and research work (p<0.0001). A majority of the male students used computers/internet at cyber cafés, followed by home and college, but the female students mainly used computers at home. Textbooks were represented as the preferred medium of information by 75% female students and the internet was reported as the preferred medium by 84% of the male students. 45% female and 24% male students were found to be exposed to computer-assisted teaching (CAT); however, 100% male and female students advocated the use of CAT.

Baseline characteristics of the study population (N=500)

CharacteristicsNumberPercentage (%)
1. Age Group (years)
(a) <1911322.6
(b) 19-2117334.6
(c) 22-2413827.6
(d) >247615.2
2. Gender
(a) Male40080
(b) Female10020
3. Study
(a) College of Applied Medical Sciences10020
(b) College of Pharmacy10020
(c) College of Nursing10020
(d) College of Medicine20040


The potential of the internet and evidence based medicine in providing the much needed information to the patients as well as the practioners in the today’s world, cannot be denied. However, the present study showed a poor knowledge among the female medical students regarding this (p<0.0001) [Table/Fig-2]. The students should know how to do the literature search and how to extract the right information in this age of the internet [5]. Moreover, the geographic and the socioeconomic factors prevent the transfer of rapid information between the patients and the healthcare providers. With the use of the internet, through broadband high capacity network connections, we can cross these barriers to provide timely medical care in every nook and corner of the country [6]. To achieve this, it is important for the practitioners to have ample knowledge on computers and the internet. With respect to the purpose of computer and Internet utilization

Computer and Internet use among

ParametersFemale StudentsMale StudentsQ1 p-value
Computer Users65(65%)352(88%)0.002
1. Self operated55(55%)140(35%)0.044
2. Assisted10(10%)212(53%)<0.0001
Purpose for using Computer
1.To get general Information(42)42 %96(24%)0.062
2.For thesis or research Work--320(80%)
3.For entertainment(52)52%88(22%)0.0002
4.Any other12(12%)168(42%)0.31
Place where use
3.Cyber café216(54%)0.0009
4.Any other11(11%)16(4%)0.31
Preferred medium for Information
5.Any other
Reason for preferring Internet
1.Time saving14(14%)256(64%)<0.0001
2.Latest knowledge10(10%)300(75%)<0.0001
3.Easy accessibility4(4%)176(44%)<0.0001
Internet used to know
1.About drugs3(3%)120(30%)<0.0001
2.Rational prescribing5(5%)100(25%)0.001
3.Therapeutic guidelines10(10%)160(40%)<0.0001
4.Recent advances in Medicine8(8%)320(80%)<0.0001
Knowledge about evidence based medicine8(8%)352(88%)<0.0001
Commonly assessed web sites
4.Social networking site1(1%)40(10%)0.02
5.specific journal site320(80%)
7.any other64(16%)

In this study, 42% Female and 24% Male students were using computers and the internet to get general information, 80% of the students used computers for thesis or research work, 52% Females and 22% Males used computers for entertainment and 42% of the students used computers for others purposes. These data are less than those of the previous studies which were done by Unnikrishnan et al., [7] and Sharma et al., [8] which reported that a majority of the undergraduate medical students used the internet for entertainment and that postgraduates used it for general information and thesis and research. Ranasinghe et al., [9] stated that the students used computers predominately for; word processing (95.6%), entertainment (95.0%), web browsing (80.1%) and preparing presentations (76.8%). In a study which was conducted in Meerut, India, Maroof KA and co-workers [10] showed that the main use of the Internet was for communication (58.5%) and entertainment (46.3%) and that only about one-fifths of the respondents used the Internet for searching literature for projects from the medical journals which are there on the Internet. Jadoon et al., [11] stated that 61.0% used the internet for both academic and Personal activities, while 17% used it for academic activities [Table/Fig-3].

Comparison between present study and other studies

Studies (References)Computer and internet accessibility from homeUse of Search engine googleAcademic/professional purpose of computerInternet as information source
Present Study46%84%53.6%66.8%80%70%
Ranasinghe et al., [9]74.4%80.2%77.3%-100%-
Seetharaman N [18]84.82%85.4%85.14%48.9%57.1%62.9%
Jadoon et al., [11]58.5%78.6%70.5%88.9%17%-
Unnikrishnan B et al., [7]--52.8%60.2%12.8%38.8%
Ahmed et.al., [12]--18.7 %-29.3%-
Sharma et al., [8]--31.33%34.6680%36%
Ajuwon GA [13]--8.1%9%-48.6
Mansor I [15]81.237.5%78%

The places where computers are used

Computers and the internet have now become more affordable and hence they are easily available and accessible. The computer ownership has considerably increased among the students in various parts of the world, along various courses.

In the present study, a majority of the medical students used computers at home, especially females (84%), while a majority of the male students (54%) used computers at cyber cafes. These findings are similar to those of the studies which were done by Ahmed et al., [12] and Ajuwon GA [13], where a majority of the students used computers in cyber cafés. On the other hand, a majority of the medical students in other studies were reported to use computers and the internet at home [Table/Fig-3].

The preferred medium for getting the required information

The media which were preferred for getting information in the present study was the internet for the male section, followed by Journals/library and textbooks, while the female medical students preferred textbooks and the internet. These variations between males and females for the media sources may be because of the conservative community and the family restrictions in Saudi Arabia. These findings were supported by those of other studies too [Table/Fig-3].

The commonly accessed sites

In the present study, the common websites which were accessed were Google and specific journals, followed by Yahoo, PubMed, MSN and the social networking sites. Studies which were conducted in India [7] and Sudan [12] showed that a small percentage of the medical students accessed PubMed due to a lack of knowledge on the basic technological aspects of the Internet and confuses to the data base for searching to getting medical information [Table/Fig-3].

The perception of the students regarding the benefit of the internet in medical academics

The advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) such as Netscape, have made the Internet a powerful medium of instruction and learning [14].

In the current study, 45% females and 24% male students were found to be exposed to computer-assisted teaching (CAT); however, 100% of the students advocated the use of CAT. This was comparable with the studies which were done in India, where a majority of the students advocated the use of computers and the internet in teaching institutions [79].

In 2002, Mansor I [15] stated that 93.4% of the respondents felt the necessity of learning high computer skills during their medical education and 53% thought that computers and the Internet could improve their studies and professional skills. In a study which was conducted in medical schools in Nigeria in 2008 by Ameh [16], it was found that 83% of all the students wanted computer education to be included in their medical school curriculum. The easy availability of computers and the accessibility to the internet have increased greatly, thereby influencing its role and demand in medical education too. The Internet has made the medical knowledge accessible for everyone around the world [17]. However, the students need to be guided in choosing the right material.


The internet is one of the important sources of medical education information and it creates an educational delivery system; it is highly needed to increase the credit hours for the university requirement courses in computer application and for the internet use for both among male and female students. Male and female students should be trained to extract valuable information from the special medical web sites and they should be encouraged to check the authenticity of the medical information by correlating it with the existing evidences. This will be helpful in promoting evidence based learning. Besides that, the Web-based learning programs are able to replace the conventional class lectures and the high demand requirement of the medical students for the recent advances in medicine.


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