Most patients look up online health information to learn more about medical conditions, not because they mistrust their doctors, according to a study published in the Journal of Health Communication, Medical News Today reports.
For the study, researchers from the University of California-Davis Health System examined more than 500 people who actively participate in online support groups and had an upcoming doctor's appointment.
Researchers observed the individuals' activities prior to the doctor visits to determine whether the patients consulted:
- Online support groups;
- Other Web resources; and
- Offline sources of information.
Xinyi Hu, co-author of the study, said, "We found that mistrust was not a significant predictor of people going online for health information prior to their visit" (Rattue, Medical News Today, 7/12). Researchers found that patients were more likely to look for health information online if they:
- Believed their medical conditions were long-term;
- Felt they had some degree of personal control over their illness; or
- Were distressed about their medical condition.
Researchers also found that:
- 70% of study participants said they planned to ask their doctor questions about information found online;
- More than 50% planned to make a request of their doctor based on information found online; and
- 40% printed information from the Internet to bring to their doctor's appointment (Beaulieu, FiercePracticeManagement, 7/10).