|Year : 2005 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 116-118
Use of the Internet as a resource of health information by patients: A clinic-based study in the Indian population
Shashank M Akerkar, M Kanitkar, LS Bichile
Department of Medicine, Seth G.S. Medical College, and K.E.M. Hospital, Parel, Mumbai -12, India
Background: There is abundant literature documenting that the Internet is fast changing the way patients access health-related information, learn about their illnesses, and make healthcare- related decisions. However, there is hardly any data regarding Indian patients accessing health-related information available on the Internet.
Aims: To determine patients' use of the Internet as a medical information resource and to determine their experience, their perceptions of the quality and reliability of the information available.
Setting: The study was carried out in the outpatient clinic of an urban, tertiary care private sector hospital in November 2004.
Material and Methods : Our survey instrument consisted of an anonymous single-page questionnaire. Eight hundred and eighty consecutive adults aged 18-70 years, attending the general outpatient clinic of a tertiary care private hospital completed the questionnaire.
Results: Two hundred and eighty-one (32%) patients acknowledged surfing the Internet, while 75% (212/281) of them acknowledged that they accessed health-related information. Amongst those who accessed the Internet, 130 (61%) found the information on the net to be of average quality. Almost all patients (211/212) felt that the information served the purpose and 95% (201/212) also found also found it to be reliable. Only 7% (21/281) patients were aware of the presence of any quality standards pertaining to health information sites and none could name any accreditation standard.
Conclusions: One in four patients attending the private set-up is using the Internet for health information. A majority of patients find the information on the net reliable and of good quality. Awareness about health information quality standards is a rarity.
Shashank M Akerkar
Department of Medicine, Seth G.S. Medical College, and K.E.M. Hospital, Parel, Mumbai -12
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
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