A grounded theory of doctors' information search behaviour. Implications for information provision, pharmaceutical market entry and development

Iain Black, Stephen Tagg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research examines the information search and usage behaviour of physicians when they choose pharmaceutical treatments for their patients. It details this behaviour, its causes, variations and information sources. Grounded Theory was used, with data collection primarily based on depth interviews with primary and secondary care physicians. Two main categories of search behaviour emerged and were labelled self-referencing and surrogating. Self-referencing describes the process where physicians first use internal, patient case experiences to discover behavioral patterns for the successful treatment of patients. If insufficient confidence is held in their internal knowledge, physicians will attempt to use the patient case experience of external sources and surrogate this experience as their own. Recommendations are made regarding matching the information usage behaviors of physicians with that provided by organisations and marketing outputs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-366
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • pharmaceutical marketing
  • information search behaviour
  • doctors
  • medical information
  • marketing management

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