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Evaluation of Health Information on the Web


Summary of 9th Survey on the Use of the Internet for Medical & Health Purposes

The Health on the Net Foundation (HON) has made
results available from its latest survey (2004/5) on the use of the Internet for medical and health purposes. In a five month period they had over 2,000 health information seekers fill in their questionnaire which was posted on sites world wide.

The most recent survey found that on average per week, users went online three times to look for health-related information.

For more complete findings from these surveys and others go to the HON web page

For Healthcare Professionals

Highlights of Healthcare Professionals' Experience from the Survey

The survey had 787 health care professionals fill in their questionnaire which was posted on the HON website and collaborative sites, as well as distributed to newsletter subscribers.

  • 59% of health care professionals reported having patients discuss information they had found online (This is less than 2002, at 69.5%)
  • 77% of medical professionals agreed that patient health information seeking on the Internet improves the quality of patient consultation
  • 61.7% of them said that patient information seeking on the Internet is not a waste of a patient's time
  • Nearly half of medical professionals engage in email correspondence with their patients
  • More than half of medical professionals made Web site recommendations to patients in 2005, often during (51.6%) or after (54.6%) a consultation
  • Thus the majority of medical professionals would use a trustworthy source of online health information if it is free (91.3%) or inexpensive (75.3%) to the patient

For Patients

Highlights of Patients' Experience from the Survey:

The survey had about 1225 non medical professionals respondents:

  • In 2005 only 54% of patient-type respondents discussed the results of their Internet searches with their care providers which is about 8% fewer than reported in 2002
  • A continued trend from 2002: respondents favour certified web sites
  • EDU is the domain extension with the greatest credibility, according to 87% of respondents
  • 88% of patient-type respondents think that providing medical information to them is as vital to their overall care as a physician consultation, and
  • 92% of them frequently seek health information on the Web to improve their knowledge about health issues
  • 90% said that Health care providers should suggest trustworthy online sources of health information, and
  • 80% of them think that, as they write drug prescriptions, health care providers should prescribe Web sites for patients to obtain specific health information