The internet has become a common source of health information; however, little is known about online health information-seeking behaviour (HISB) among patients in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
This study aimed to determine the prevalence of online health information-seeking and its associated factors among patients in primary care in Malaysia. We also examined the reasons for, and the sources of, online health information-seeking, patients’ level of trust in the information found and what the information was used for.
A cross-sectional study using a self-administered questionnaire was conducted on patients who attended a primary care clinic. The questionnaire included the use of the internet to seek health information, sources and types of health information, eHealth literacy, patients’ trust in online information, and how patients appraise and use online health information.
Out of 381 patients in this study, 54.7% (n = 208) used the internet to search for health information. Patients mainly sought information via Google (96.2%) and the most common websites that they visited were Wikipedia (45.2%) and MyHEALTH (37.5%). Higher levels of education, longer duration of internet use, and higher eHealth literacy were significantly associated with online HISB. Patients’ trust in websites (45.6%) and social media (20.7%) was low when compared to trust in healthcare professionals (87.9%). Only 12.9% (n = 22) of patients had discussed online health information with their doctors.
Online HISB was common among primary care patients; however, their eHealth literacy was low, with suboptimal appraisal skills to evaluate the accuracy of online health information.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: