Indexed on: 27 Nov '01Published on: 27 Nov '01Published in: Journal of medical Internet research
The Government has invested pound 7 million (approx. $11.5 million) to connect all Primary Care Practices in Scotland to the National Health Service Intranet (NHSnet). This provides General Practitioners (GPs) and Practice Nurses with access to the Internet and a wealth of healthcare information of varying quality.This study examines Primary Care Staff's use of the Internet, their views on the reliability of healthcare information available via the Internet, and their interaction with patients who have presented them with information downloaded from the Internet.A postal questionnaire was distributed to a random sample of 300 GPs and 130 Practice Nurses throughout Glasgow. There was a response rate of 60%.Time restraints (20%) and concerns that they lack the necessary skills (17%) were highlighted as the most common reasons for not accessing the Internet. Sixty-nine per cent of GPs and 70% of Practice Nurses had looked at the Internet for healthcare information. Forty-eight per cent of GPs and 41% of Practice Nurses were concerned about the reliability of Internet information. Fifty-eight per cent of GPs and 34% of Practice Nurses have been approached by patients with Internet healthcare information. Sixty-five per cent of the information presented by patients was new to GPs.The majority of Primary Care Staff now have access to the Internet and use it to look up healthcare information. Almost half of GPs would consider referring their patients to the Internet for further information about their condition. Results highlight that the healthcare information downloaded from the Internet by patients is accurate, but patients have problems correctly interpreting this information. An increase in the use of home computers and free access to the Internet will see a continued increase in patients approaching GPs and Practice Nurses with healthcare information downloaded from the Internet.