Use of the Internet by patients attending hospital for oral and maxillofacial procedures


      Information obtained on the Internet regarding medical procedures is largely unregulated and can be confusing. The aims of this study were to assess use of the Internet by patients attending hospital for oral and maxillofacial procedures, and to assess the quality of information provided at consultation. Data were collected prospectively using a confidential questionnaire, which was distributed to consecutive patients attending for elective operations at 2 oral and maxillofacial units: Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock, and Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth (n = 100 at each unit). All the distributed questionnaires were returned. At both units, 95% of patients thought that discussion at the initial consultation was good or very good, and 84% at both units stated that they had access to the Internet. Internet access was consistently high among all age groups up to the age of 65, but in those aged over 65 it was considerably lower. A total of 22/84 patients (26%) at Crosshouse, and 14/84 (17%) at Queen Alexandra used the Internet to gain further information regarding their condition or procedure. All of those (n = 14) at Queen Alexandra, and 21/22 at Crosshouse had used Google to search for the information. Those who used the Internet to find information on their medical condition or procedure found it to be a useful resource, but they also stated that the information caused some concerns. With use of the Internet and access to it increasing we highlight the need for regulated and appropriate websites to which patients should be directed.


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