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Patients on the Internet – choices choices

In search engines on September 23, 2009 by africker Tagged: , , , , , ,

I am alerted by Hospital Doctor to an article in the latest issue of Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.  Firstly – what a pleasure it is to see Hospital Doctor revived (all be it as a website only).  Fans of Jerry Nelson in particular will welcome him back.

The article in Annals examines the extent to which use of the Internet by patients tends to increase anxiety.  There are some unsurprising findings – the older the patient the lower the probability they will have used the Internet for example.    Most people (79%) were pleased with the quality of what they found.  26% were left anxious / confused.   Problems with results from Google searches are discussed.  All fairly reasonable stuff.

The proposed solution is interesting – “regulated, comprehensible patient information on hospital websites”.  The Hospital Doctor post points at the pages offered by the RCSE themselves.  Unmentioned is NHS Choices (includes health information previously offered by NHS Direct).   A quick search on that site with the terms proposed by the article returns high quality, NHS approved, patient targeted materials (even a video explaining how a hernia happens and is treated).

So we are getting there – the task is to make sure the patients (and the clinicians) both know where to look.  NHS Choices is the 5th hit on Google for inguinal hernia behind bupa and wikipedia.  While we are all aware that Google believes wikipedia is the answer to most questions (to the point that someone has created a Firefox plugin to search Google sans wikipedia) you have to wonder if the NHS shouldn’t try and out SEO Bupa.

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4 Responses to “Patients on the Internet – choices choices”

  1. […] Excerpt from: Patients on the Internet – choices choices […]

  2. Hi
    In which edition of Annals did the article appear? I’m interested to read the original text.
    Kind regards
    Edgard

  3. Hi Edgard,

    The article is linked at the start of the post (the word article is the link).

    Reference is
    Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, Volume 91, Number 6, September 2009 , pp. 460-463
    Use of the internet by patients undergoing elective hernia repair or cholecystectomy

  4. Definitely an interesting article. For patient state of mind it is vital for there to be one thoroughly comprehensive and trustworthy site.

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