According to a telephone survey of more than 1000 American consumers over the age of 18, done for Wolters Kluwer Health by IPSOS, 67 percent of consumers feel that they are better informed as patients when accessing medical data online.
A quarter of the consumers stated that their level of health knowledge was unaffected by online access to medical data while 1% was unsure how medical data access affected their health knowledge.
Three percent of consumers felt concern that they actually felt less informed as patients after accessing medical data online while four percent expressed concern that they were misinformed after accessing medical data online.
For the thirty-three percent of people who did not feel benefit to medical data online, it would seem that there is a problem with:
- Lack of comprehension to data accessed
- Lack of knowledge on how to apply the information gleaned
- Conflict of material read in contrast to what an individual may have already been told
- Conflicting data in accessing various sites regarding the same information
These problems highlight the fact that:
- Like information obtained by healthcare providers, it is wise to get a second or third opinion
- Use of data is a good basis for a discussion with one’s healthcare provider, not a substitute for one
- People need to know the criteria by which they can evaluate the authenticity and value of a site
- Individuals need the ability to distinguish bona fide sites from those having a commercial benefit or an agenda separate from the sole benefit of the reader (consumer/patient)
In a time when anyone can post health writing online, knowing how to distinguish beneficial sources on the web is key.