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The influence of the Internet on decision making in acoustic neuroma.

Research paper by A A AA Orabi, A R AR D'Souza, R R RR Walsh, R M RM Irving

Indexed on: 02 Nov '05Published on: 02 Nov '05Published in: The Journal of laryngology and otology



Abstract

To determine the access to and the use of the Internet by acoustic neuroma patients as a medical information source, and the influence of the Internet on decision-making, as well as the patients' views on the quality of particular sites.A retrospective 27-item questionnaire was sent to 138 consecutive acoustic neuroma patients diagnosed between 1997 and 2002. The study included patients treated by conservative, radiotherapeutic and surgical modalities.Patient demographics, the extent of Internet use as well as quality and quantity of available information.There were 86.95 per cent questionnaires available for analysis. Twenty-four per cent accessed the Internet to obtain information about acoustic neuromas. Ninety-seven per cent of patients said that the information provided in the clinic matched with the information obtained from the websites, 49 per cent said that the information obtained from the Internet did not influence decision making regarding acceptance of treatment of their tumour. Some patients said the Internet information was depressing, devastating, and they would never look up the Internet again for medical information.A significant proportion of our patients accessed the Internet for information. Caution should be exercised when advising patients regarding websites as the information on the Internet is often not controlled or checked for accuracy. Acoustic neuroma specialists and ENT surgeons in general should familiarize themselves with related websites so that patients can then be directed to high-quality sites.