267733 Consumer Empowerment or Misinformation through the Use of Health IT

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gul Seckin, PhD , Sociology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore
Background: While the Internet is a valuable source of information, it may lead users to questionable web sites, especially given that many web sites are user generated by other patients or by commercial interests. This raises important concerns about the expanding use of medical web sites. Objective: The purpose of this presentation is to provide preliminary information on users' perceptions' of the extent to which they can critically appraise the quality of online health information. Methods: Data (n = 710) come from national sampling of online health and medical information users who participated in the Study of Health and Medical Information in Cyberspace- Survey of User Perceptions. ANOVA and t-test were performed to examine potential differences based on age, gender, race and education. Results: Almost 60 percent reported being confident in their ability to critically appraise health and medical information on the Internet. Nearly 85 percent of respondents viewed online information being credible. Eighty percent also perceived online information to be balanced and accurate. However, only 38 % reported checking the when the information was last updated. A little over half of the sample checked the credentials and institutional affiliations of the author of the information, appraise whether the author's credentials seem adequate for the type of information provided. Nearly half checked who sponsors the web site, and discussed the information with their provider. Less than half checked whether other online or print resources confirm the information found. Discussion: Results suggest that the ability of most health consumers may not be adequate to critically appraise the quality of the information. It is important not to substitute online health and medical information for health providers' experience and training and discuss information with medical professionals to check for its accuracy.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
To demonstrate the extent to which internet users can critically appraise the quality of online health information.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the investigator of the research which will be presented.
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.