Internet technology has changed not only our way of living but also the methods of learning in educational practice. Internet use has increased progressively over the last decade, and information searching has become one of the most popular and frequent online activities (Nemoto et al., 2007; Meneses et al., 2005). One of the major usages of the Internet for learning is to search for information on the Web for some academic goals. Information seeking is the process by which users find and select proper information resources in order to enhance their knowledge level (Segev et al., 2007). The Internet has also dramatically altered the worldwide use of academic publications for medical education as rich resources are available on the Internet for researchers and university students (Junni, 2007). Tsai and Tsai (2003) have claimed that in the process of information searching, learners may use various types of searching strategies to obtain information they need on the Internet. Moreover, when judging the information they have found, they may employ various standards to evaluate its accuracy and usefulness (Wu & Tsai, 2005).
Nowadays health information is more and more readily available for users on the Internet with the rapid growth of medical information websites (Benigeri & Pluye, 2003). More recently, web-based resources supply regular professional updates, evidence-based patient care information, and medical problem solving (Vincent et al., 2006). Health and medical information is now one of the most frequently sought topics on the Internet (McMullan, 2006). One particular advantage of using the Internet for seeking healthcare information is the ease of acquiring information for a broad range of clinical subjects (Doyle, 2002). These web-based sites also provide medical students, patients and clinical physicians with a wide range of information relating to medical problem solved in general. Although there has been a sudden increase in the amount of medical or healthcare information available on the Internet, many studies have raised concerns about Internet sites that provide medical or healthcare information too soon after it has become available (Nemoto et al., 2007). Earlier studies have reported limited functions of the search engine's usage by medical information seekers on the Internet (Suarez et al., 1997). The rapid growth of medical information on the Internet has resulted in questionable quality and potential dangers related to its flawed or unsuitable use (Benigeri & Pluye, 2003). Special attention needs to be focused on growing Internet sites with abundant medical information. For example, Matthews et al (2003) provided a scheme for testing Internet sites to identify those which provide scientifically accurate information while Sladek et al. (2006) tried to build up a search filter to select applicable information in the medical literature. In addition, most of the studies which assessed the quality, influence, usage or outcomes of the information on the Internet are related to websites in Western countries (Chu & Chan, 1998; Haddad & Macleod, 1999; Thomas & Kern, 2004; Rice, 2006; Voigt, 2007; Kari & Savolainen, 2007). With few researches exploring how precisely the users process the medical information on the Internet in an Eastern context, this study therefore aimed at investigating Taiwanese medical students' online information judgments and searching strategies to address this research issue in an Eastern context.
Many universities now use the Internet, telecommunication technologies and multimedia programs as part of educational training in the classroom (Slotte et al., 2001). It is expected that medical students may frequently search/use web-based information for academic purposes. In medical schools, the Internet is now widely used by educators in instructional practice to help students acquire more knowledge and improve their learning outcomes (Slotte et al. …