Developing policies for e-health: use of online health information by Australian health professionals and their patients.

Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Gold Coast campus, QLD, Australia.
The HIM journal (Impact Factor: 0.62). 01/2011; 40(2):15-22.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An online survey ( was used to identify patterns of usage of health information available on the Internet by five major Australian health professions (AHPs: general practice, social work, dietetics, physiotherapy and optometry. Survey questions were developed to explore participants' responses associated with their level of Internet usage. From the five AHPs (n=746), it was found that social workers and dietitians most frequently recommended health websites to their patients (11-20% of the time throughout a 12-month period [2009]). Health information topics most frequently recommended and brought to health professionals' attention by patients were concerned with "specific health conditions" and the main source professionals used to access health information was identified through the use of "search engines". This study further reports that Internet recommendations from health professionals (1-10%), Internet requests from patients (<1%) and Internet consultation processes (1%), do not mirror similar international research. It is recommended that development of policies that might influence e-health should not be based on a presumption that the use of the Internet for accessing health information is universal or that the Internet strongly influences Australian healthcare delivery.

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