Web Geekery in Recent Literature – 2/15/2008

On the internet and patient education:

Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2008 Jan;12(1):55-63.
The internet: friend or foe when providing patient education?
Anderson AS, Klemm P.
James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY.
The Internet has changed how patients with cancer learn about and cope with their disease. Newly diagnosed patients with cancer often have complex educational and informational needs related to diagnosis and treatment. Nurses frequently encounter time and work-related constraints that can interfere with the provision of patient education. They are challenged to educate patients in an environment of rapidly expanding and innovative computer technology. Barriers that hinder nurses in integrating educational Internet resources into patient care include lack of training, time constraints, and inadequate administrative support. Advantages of Internet use for patient education and support include wide-ranging and current information, a variety of teaching formats, patient empowerment, new communication options, and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pitfalls associated with Internet use for patients with cancer include inaccurate information, lack of access, poor quality of online resources, and security and privacy issues. Nurses routinely use computer technology in the workplace and follow rigorous security and privacy standards to protect patient information. Those skills can provide the foundation for the use of online sources for patient teaching. Nurses play an important role in helping patients evaluate the veracity of online information and introducing them to reliable Internet resources.
PMID: 18258575

Anglophonic Canadians seeking healthcare info online:

Health Informatics J. 2008 Mar;14(1):17-28.
Use of health-related information from the Internet by English-speaking patients.
Khechine H, Pascot D, Prémont P.
Departement of Information Systems, Faculté des sciences de l’administration, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada G1K 7P4. hager.khechine@sio.ulaval.ca.
The aim of this research is to determine the kinds of health-related information that patients seek more often from websites written in English, and at which stages of the healthcare decisional process they use this information more intensively. A quantitative study was performed. Canadian English-speaking patients who have long-term diseases and who use the Internet completed an 18-item questionnaire online. Respondents were questioned about the categories of health-related websites they visit the most (scientific, general, commercial websites, or discussion groups) and the stages of the medical decisional process during which they use the information obtained (identification of possible treatments, treatment choice, and treatment application or follow-up). Results show that respondents use Internet information displayed in English mostly at the stages of identification of possible treatments (94.2%) and treatment application or follow-up (86%). At these two stages, patients look more often for information from scientific websites.
PMID: 18258672

You’ve probably already heard about this one- but just in case you haven’t…

Cancer. 2008 Feb 11
Commonly cited website quality criteria are not effective at identifying inaccurate online information about breast cancer.
Bernstam EV, Walji MF, Sagaram S, Sagaram D, Johnson CW, Meric-Bernstam F.
School of Health Information Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas.
BACKGROUND: Consumers increasingly consult the Internet for breast cancer information. Concerned about accuracy, multiple organizations developed quality criteria for online content. However, the effectiveness of these tools is unknown. The authors determined whether existing quality criteria can identify inaccurate breast cancer information online. METHODS: The authors identified 343 unique webpages by using 15 breast cancer-related queries on 5 popular web search-engines. Each page was assessed for 15 quality criteria and 3 website characteristics, link type (sponsored or not), search engine used to find the page, and domain extension. Two clinician-reviewers independently assessed accuracy and topics covered. The authors then determined whether quality criteria, website characteristics, and topics were associated with the presence of inaccurate statements. RESULTS: The authors found 41 inaccurate statements on 18 webpages (5.2%). No quality criteria or website characteristic, singly or in combination, reliably identified inaccurate information. The total number of quality criteria met by a website accounted for a small fraction of the variability in the presence of inaccuracies (point biserial r = -0.128; df = 341; P = .018; r(2) = 0.016). However, webpages containing information on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) were significantly more likely to contain inaccuracies compared with pages without CAM information (odds ratio [OR], 15.6; P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Most breast cancer information that consumers are likely to encounter online is accurate. However, commonly cited quality criteria do not identify inaccurate information. Webpages that contain information about CAM are relatively likely to contain inaccurate statements. Consumers searching for health information online should still consult a clinician before taking action. Cancer 2008. (c) 2008 American Cancer Society. PMID: 18266210

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