The Particulars: The majority of American adults reportedly access the internet for disease-specific or health-related information. The prevalence of internet use among ED patients has not been well described in published studies.
Data Breakdown: In an analysis of 687 adults presenting to an ED between December 2010 and March 2012, participants were asked to complete a 20-question survey. More than three-fourths of respondents (78.4%) reported accessing the internet specifically for health-related information, and nearly half (45.8%) looked for information relating to their chief complaint for presenting to the ED. The health information received via the internet was “somewhat” or “completely” trusted by 77.6% of patients. However, only 7.5% of patients informed their emergency physician that they used the internet to learn about their health-related concerns.
Take Home Pearls: The vast majority of ED patients appear to use the internet to obtain health-related information and place high levels of trust in the information they garner. Emergency physicians may wish to specifically discuss if patients used the internet to learn about their health concerns because they are unlikely to share this information with ED personnel on their own.
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