Trends in Computer Usage and Means of Obtaining CE Credits Among Professional Psychologists

Philip Schatz, Ph.D., Saint Joseph's University, Psychology Department
Jeffrey N. Browndyke, M.A., Louisiana State University, Psychology Department

Abstract

Computer usage within professional practice and "consumption" of Continuing Education opportunities were analyzed in an Internet-based survey questionnaire. Data from 97 professional psychologists were analyzed, with 7 respondents who were not professional psychologists being excluded. IBM/PC computers are the predominant choice among psychologists, running Windows/Win95 on Pentium processors with 1GB or more of hard drive storage, 20MB or more of RAM and a 33.6k baud-rate modem. Psychologists prefer to connect to the Internet via Local Internet Service Providers, and access web pages and e-mail via Netscape Navigator.

Location of computer use is distributed among hospitals, home, private practices and educational settings. Psychologists report using computers in their practice for report writing, scoring tests, research activities, record keeping, and test administration. Of those psychologists administering tests via computer, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Category Test, MMPI, and Continuous Performance Test are most prevalent. Psychologists report utilizing their computer to score the following tests: MMPI, WCST, Category Test, WAIS-R/WAIS-III, CVLT, WMS-R/WMS-III, WISC-R/WISC-III, and Woodcock-Johnson. With respect to using computer-generated reports within their own neuropsychological reports, psychologists report paraphrasing the results and using only the test scores, with only 3% reporting using actual verbatim from the computer generated reports.

Psychologists report obtaining CE credits from National conferences, local conferences, the NAN conference, distant learning and mail-based correspondence courses, with the majority of their CE credits coming from the NAN conference, and local and national conferences.


Introduction:

With the technological growths in the past decade, use of personal computers has become commonplace. Neuropsychologists now utilize personal and networked computers in their private practices, hospitals, colleges and universities, and homes for a wide variety of tasks. Commercial products are available for the administration and scoring of neuropsychological test and batteries, as well as for report writing, billing and record keeping. Further, the growth of the Internet has allowed individuals to have immediate access to an almost infinite amount of information. Anyone with a personal computer and an Internet connection can develop and post personal web pages, read and respond to newsgroups, receive and send electronic mail, take "distant learning" classes, or just "surf" World Wide Web.

Decades ago, tools like word processors helped to automate or digitize every-day tasks such as letter writing or record keeping. As a tool, the modern day web browser has helped increase access to digitized information. While alternate means of obtaining Continuing Education credits existed prior to the "digital age" (audio or video tapes) professional psychologists now have access to web-based courses. Whereas library research and literature reviews were previously restricted to "on-site" searches, psychologists are now able to search databases such as MedLine over the Internet.

As newer and more technologically advanced tools have developed, psychologists appear to have embraced and incorporated these technologies into their professional practices and settings. The current study was performed to investigate and document trends in computer usage within professional practice and means of obtaining Continuing Education credits by professional psychologists.


Methods:

97 respondents completed a series of questions placed on-line in standard hypertext format (HTML). Questionnaire programming was performed in FlexMail, served via Webstar on a Macintosh 8550 Internet Server computer, which was also used to collect respondent data. Data collection was conducted for a period of nine months. Respondents were required to be licensed professional psychologists. As a result of this exclusionary criterion, information from 7 respondents was excluded.

Results:

IBM/PC computers are the predominant choice among psychologists (86%, versus 14% Macintosh), running Windows/Win95 (86%) on Pentium processors (57%) with 1GB or more of hard drive storage (72%), 20MB or more of RAM (58%) and a 33.6k baud-rate modem (53%). Psychologists prefer to connect to the Internet via Local Internet Service Providers (61%), and access web pages (52%) and e-mail (33%) via Netscape Navigator.
Table 1. Computer demographic data.

Computer Type
IBM/PC 85.6%
Macintosh 14.4%

Operating System
Windows '95 70%
Windows 15.6%
Mac OS 14.4%

Processor
Pentium 53.3%
486 23.3%
Mac PPC 8.9%
Mac 680*0 4.4%

Memory
20 MB+ 57.8%
16 MB 30%
8 MB 5.7%
<8 MB 2.2%

Storage
1 GB+ 72.2%
500 MB+ 11.1%
100 MB+ 14.4%

Table 2. Internet utilization data.

Modem
33.6k 53.3%
28.8k 21.1%
14.4k 10.0%
2400k 2.2%

Internet Browser
Netscape Navigator 57.8%
Internet Explorer 30%
America Online 4.4%

Internet Service Provider
Local Provider 51.1%
America Online 17.8%
T1 Connection 5.5%
Compuserve 4.4%

E-mail Program
Netscape Navigator 33.3%
America Online 17.8%
Eudora 16.7%
Internet Explorer 15.6%
Compuserve 4.4%

Location of computer use is distributed among hospitals (34%), home (30%), private practice (26%) and educational settings (7%). Psychologists report using computers in their practice for report writing (84%), scoring tests (76%), research activities (73%), record keeping (58%), and test administration (50%). Of those psychologists administering tests via computer, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (54%), Category Test (42%), MMPI (28%), and Continuous Performance Test (26%) are most prevalent. Psychologists report utilizing their computer to score the following tests: MMPI (61%), WCST (44%), Category Test (28%), WAIS-R/WAIS-III (20%), CVLT (19%), WMS-R/WMS-III (10%), WISC-R/WISC-III (9%), and Woodcock-Johnson (7%). With respect to using computer-generated reports within their own neuropsychological reports, psychologists report paraphrasing the results (49%) and using only the test scores (24%), with only 3% reporting using actual verbatim from the computer generated reports.

Location of Computer Use
Hospital 34%
Home 30%
Private Practice 26%
Educational Setting 7%

Nature of Computer Use
Report Writing 84%
Test Scoring 76%
Research 73%
Record Keeping 58%
Test Administration 50%

Tests Administered by Computer
WCST 54%
Category Test 42%
MMPI 61%
CPT 26%

Tests Scored by Computer
MMPI 61%
WCST 44%
Category Test 28%
WAIS-R/WAIS-III 20%
CVLT 19%
WMS-R/WMS-III 10%

Computer use in Generating Reports
Paraphrase Results 61%
Only use Test Scores 24%
Use Verbatim 3%

Psychologists report obtaining CE credits from National conferences (78%), local conferences (74%), the NAN conference (64%), distant learning (4%) and mail-based correspondence courses (2%), with the majority of their CE credits coming from the NAN conference (32%), and local (29%) and national conferences (20%).

Means of Obtaining CE Credits
National Conferences 78%
Local Conferences 74%
NAN Conference 64%
Distant Learning 4%
Mail-Based Correspondence 2%