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Patients trust doctors but love online health information

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Times Of India.
08 July 2012

When a smart–phone–wielding patient starts surfing the Internet for health information at the start of a headache, he or she isn't being antisocial or mistrusting of doctors. A new study from the University of California–Davis says Net–savvy patients are merely trying to be an active partner in healthcare delivery.

They don't mistrust their doctors, underlined the study's author Xinyi Hu. Almost 70 % of those interviewed said they planned to ask their doctors questions about information they found while surfing. Around 40% said they had taken printouts to discuss niggling doubts with their doctors. Over half of them said they were planning to ask at least one question to their doctor on the basis of their Net–based own research. This reaction is not surprising. Health is one of the widely read subjects on the Internet.

The press release put out by the California University said that over 12,000 groups were listed in the Yahoo! Groups Health and Wellness directory till February 2011. In urban India where broadband penetration is high as compared to rural India, surfing for health information is on the rise. Many Indian websites offer health information – though most of it is borrowed from western literature instead of India–specific data.But articles have been written in journals of Indian medical groups such as the Association of Medical Consultants (Grasp) about the need for doctors themselves to use the Internet more effectively.

In fact, the California University study states that doctors need not be defensive when their patients come in with Internet–derived information. "We found that mistrust was not a significant predictor of people going online for health information prior to their visit," said Xinyi.

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