The web-surfing bariatic patient: the role of the internet in the decision-making process.

Research paper by Luca L Paolino, Laurent L Genser, Sylvie S Fritsch, Nicola N De' Angelis, Daniel D Azoulay, Andrea A Lazzati

Indexed on: 28 Jan '15Published on: 28 Jan '15Published in: Obesity Surgery


Health-related information on the Internet is constantly increasing, but its quality and accountability are difficult to assess. Patients browse the Net to get more information, but the impact of the Internet on their decisions about surgical techniques, referral centers, or surgeon choice are still not clear. This study aimed to describe the role of the Internet in the decision-making process of obese patients seeking bariatric surgery.Two hundred and twelve candidates for bariatric surgery were asked to answer a questionnaire evaluating their access to the Internet, the usefulness and trustworthiness of Internet-retrieved information, the verification of the information, and the role of the information in the decision-making process.Two hundred and twelve patients answered the questionnaire. Of these, 95.1% had access to the Internet and 77.8% reported having researched about bariatric surgery. Their main interests were the surgical techniques (81.4%) and other patients' experiences (72.3%). The favorite Web sites were those affiliated to public hospitals or edited by other patients. The accountability of the e-information was mainly evaluated by discussion with the general practitioner (GP) (83.0%) or family members and friends (46.8%). One patient in four decided to undergo bariatric surgery mainly based on e-information, while discussion about treatment options with the GP and the hospital reputation were taken into account in 77.8 and 51.7% of cases, respectively.Most patients seeking bariatric surgery search for health information online. E-information seems to have an important role in the decision-making process of patients who are candidates for bariatric surgery.