Are Physicians Ready for Patients With Internet-Based Health Information?

October 3, 2006

This article appearing in the Journal of Medical Internet Research by a Canadian group of authors is a study looking at how physicians deal with a common phenomenon of the Internet Age: patients bringing Internet health information to their appointments.Themes include: “(1) perceived reactions of patients, (2) physician burden, and (3) physician interpretation and contextualization of information.” Generally, physicians found this information problematic and enough of it misinformation that it could cause distress and confusion.

Four conclusions:

  1. physician awareness leading to acceptance of this information in the exam room as the norm
  2. physician training in redirecting patients to recommended web resources
  3. rewarding the time-pressed physician for competence in information technology (incentives)
  4. patient education on how to search for information and the appropriate use of that information within patient-physician communication.

The need for strategies to address this challenge in physician-patient communication is essential. Prescribing health information is one tested approach. By physician approaches need testing as well.

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