Indexed on: 23 Sep '06Published on: 23 Sep '06Published in: Zeitschrift fur Orthopadie und ihre Grenzgebiete
We assessed to what degree orthopaedic patients use the internet as an information platform and how these patients rate the information they obtain over the World Wide Web (WWW).450 consecutive patients consulting the out-patient department of our university clinic for the first time anonymously filled out a three-page questionnaire. Apart from clinical and sociodemographic data, the questionnaire addressed aspects such as the availability of computers and internet. Also, questions concerning the use and interpretation of medical information freely available on the WWW were asked.402 questionnaires were evaluated. 54 % of the patients stated that they readily had access to the internet. Of the remaining patients without internet access, 19 % planned the installation in the near future. The prevalence of the use of the WWW of patients in the age group up to 40 years was 72 % and in patients over 40 years only 49 %. Compared with internet non-users, internet users were younger (p < 0.001), more frequently men (p < 0.05), and of a higher education level (p < 0.001). 68 % used the internet on a regular basis with regard to queries concerning their health and well being. More than every third patient (38 %) had consulted the internet about the specific orthopaedic ailment prior to seeking advice in our clinic. Almost half of the patients judged the previous treatment to be partially in accordance with the information obtained from the internet. 86 % considered the information obtained over the WWW as helpful or very helpful. 85 % would recommend other patients to use the internet for information concerning their orthopaedic complaint. 65 % of all patients objected to an orthopaedic on-line consultation via internet.The internet seems to be an important source of information for orthopaedic patients. The prevalence concerning the use of the WWW is particularly high in younger, well educated patients.