196955 Patients' Internet Health Information-Seeking Behaviors and Assessments of Health Care Providers Communicative Behavior

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 8:45 AM

Stephanie Sargent Weaver, PhD MPH CHES , National Center for Health Marketing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Frederick Fridinger, DrPH, CHES , National Center for Health Marketing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
James B. Weaver III, PhD MPH , National Center for Health Marketing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Darren Mays, MPH , Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Objectives. Open and frank communication between practitioners and their patients has always been the cornerstone of effective health care delivery. This study asks if patients' internet health-information seeking behaviors (iHISB) may be jeopardizing this critical relationship by affecting patients' assessments of practitioners' communicative behavior.

Methods. Among internet users recently visiting a healthcare professional, assessments of iHISB (internet as the primary source for health information; dichotomously coded), practitioners' communicative behaviors (effectively conveyed information, attentive to patient's affective reactions, and patient decision-making involvement; “strongly disagree” [1] to “strongly agree” [4]), and demographics were drawn from the 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). iHISB use by respondent sex ANCOVA models, accommodating the HINTS survey design and adjusting for demographics, were computed.

Results. Patients engaging in iHISB (n=2,724), compared with iHISB non-users (n=1,605), judged their practitioners as significantly less effective at making sure they understood health-related information (iHISB users, M=3.44, non-users, M=3.53). iHISB users (M=3.12) also felt practitioners were less attentive to their emotions and feelings than non-iHISB users (M=3.18). And, iHISB users (M=3.33) felt less involved in decision-making than non-iHISB users (M=3.40). Females felt their practitioners were more attentive to their affect (M=3.19) and involved them more in decision-making (M=3.40) than males (affect, M=3.11; decision-making, M=3.33).

Conclusions. Using the internet as the primary source for health information, these findings suggest, diminishes patients' judgments of healthcare practitioners' communicative behaviors. This tendency appears most pronounced among female iHISB users for practitioners' attentiveness to affective reactions and patient involvement in decision-making.

Learning Objectives:
To discuss the idea, articulated by others, that patient use of internet health information may adversely impact the communicative interaction between practitioners and patients. To illustrate, using data from a national cross-sectional study, that male and female patients who use the internet as a primary source of health information judge their practitioners’ communicative behaviors less positively. To describe several considerations that might enhance practitioner’s interactions with patients informed by online health information.

Keywords: Health Information, Patient Perspective

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have taught, researched, and published extensively in this area.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.