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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 51  |  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

Department of Medicine, Seth G.S. Medical College, and K.E.M. Hospital, Parel, Mumbai -12, India

Correspondence Address:
Shashank M Akerkar
Department of Medicine, Seth G.S. Medical College, and K.E.M. Hospital, Parel, Mumbai -12
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 16006703

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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.


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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow