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Title: Dr Google in the ED: searching for online health information by adult emergency department patients.
Austin Authors: Cocco, Anthony M;Zordan, Rachel;Taylor, David McD ;Weiland, Tracey J;Dilley, Stuart J;Kant, Joyce;Dombagolla, Mahesha;Hendarto, Andreas;Lai, Fiona;Hutton, Jennie
Affiliation: St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Issue Date: 15-Oct-2018
Date: 2018-08-20
Publication information: Medical Journal of Australia 2018; 209(8): 342-347
Abstract: To determine the prevalence, predictors, and characteristics of health-related internet searches by adult emergency department (ED) patients; to examine the effect of searching on the doctor-patient relationship and treatment compliance. A multi-centre, observational, cross-sectional study; a purpose-designed 51-item survey, including tools for assessing e-health literacy (eHEALS) and the effects of internet searching on the doctor-patient relationship (ISMII). Setting, participants: 400 adult patients presenting to two large tertiary referral centre emergency departments in Melbourne, February-May 2017. Descriptive statistics for searching prevalence and characteristics, doctor-patient interaction, and treatment compliance; predictors of searching; effect of searching on doctor-patient interaction. 400 of 1056 patients screened for eligibility were enrolled; their mean age was 47.1 years (SD, 21.1 years); 51.8% were men. 196 (49.0%) regularly searched the internet for health information; 139 (34.8%) had searched regarding their current problem before presenting to the ED. The mean ISMII score was 30.3 (95% CI, 29.6-31.0); searching improved the doctor-patient interaction for 150 respondents (77.3%). Younger age (per 10-year higher age band: odds ratio [OR], 0.74; 95% CI, 0.61-0.91) and greater e-health literacy (per one-point eHEALS increase: OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.06-1.17) predicted searching the current problem prior to presentation; e-health literacy predicted ISMII score (estimate, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.20-0.39). Most patients would never or rarely doubt their diagnosis (79%) or change their treatment plan (91%) because of conflicting online information. Online health care information was frequently sought before presenting to an ED, especially by younger and e-health literate patients. Searching had a positive impact on the doctor-patient interaction and was unlikely to reduce adherence to treatment.
DOI: 10.5694/mja17.00889
ORCID: 0000-0002-8986-9997
Journal: Medical Journal of Australia
PubMed URL: 30107763
Type: Journal Article
Subjects: Consumer health information
Physician-patient relations
Appears in Collections:Journal articles

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