ABSTRACT: (1) To determine the prevalence of Internet medical information searches by parents prior to their child's surgical procedure, and (2) to evaluate whether Internet-based health information influences parents' medical decisions on behalf of their children.
A questionnaire designed to gather information regarding preoperative use of the Internet by parents of children who were scheduled to undergo outpatient otolaryngology procedures. Parents were asked to respond to questions regarding Internet searches for information specific to their child's diagnosis and anticipated surgical procedure.
Tertiary care pediatric hospital.
Internet access was available to 83% of respondents. Of those parents with Internet access, 48% searched the Internet for information regarding their child's diagnosis and surgical procedure. Of those who searched the Internet, 93% said they found information that was both understandable and helpful. More important, 84% of parents using the Internet said the information influenced or somewhat influenced the medical decisions they made on behalf of their child. Only 43% of parents discussed the information they found on the Internet with their child's surgeon.
Approximately 50% of the parents in our study with Internet access used it to find medical information prior to their child's surgery. Parents who used the Internet found the information helpful and influential, although physicians remain the most important source of information that guides a parent or patient in their medical decision making. Ideally, surgeons would direct parents or patients to a few trusted Internet sites and be prepared to discuss this information.
Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery 09/2005; 131(8):719-22. · 1.63 Impact Factor