Use of the Internet by patients before and after cardiac surgery: telephone survey.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about to what extent patients who underwent medical treatment access the Internet and whether they benefit from consulting the Internet. OBJECTIVE: To understand if cardiopathic patients use the Internet for health-related information and whether they find retrieved information understandable and useful. METHODS: Telephone interviews, using a semi-structured questionnaire, were conducted with 82 patients who had undergone off-pump coronary-artery bypass grafting at the Center for Less Invasive and Robotic Heart Surgery in Buffalo, New York, USA. Study design was multidisciplinary, combining expertise of medical and communication science. Sources of medical information were identified (doctor, Internet, magazines, newspapers, television, radio, family members). Accessibility, quality, and readability of Internet medical information from the patients point of view were investigated. RESULTS: Out of 82 patients, 35 (35/82, 42.7%) were Internet users. Internet users had a significantly higher education level than Internet non-users (college education: 42.9% of users, 10.6% of non-users; P <.001). Among the Internet users, 18 (18/35, 51.4%) had used the Internet for retrieving medical information; 17 (17/35, 48.6%) had not. No statistically significant differences in demographic data were found when comparing these 2 sub-groups of patients. Family-members involvement was high (15/18, 83.3%). Internet medical information was rated helpful in most cases; readability was acceptable for only 3 patients (3/18, 16.7%). To improve on-line medical information, all patients interviewed suggested sites designed by their physicians. CONCLUSIONS: Although 1 in 5 patients in our sample has used the Internet to retrieve medical information, the majority of them experiences difficulties comprehending the information retrieved. Health-care providers should provide Internet medical information that is adequate for the non-medical public's needs.
Murero, M; D'Ancona, G; Karamanoukian, H
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