Online health information–seeking behavior by endocrinology patients


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PURPOSE: Given that the Internet is important for health-related information (HRI) and the fact that online health information (OHI)-seeking behavior has never been studied in endocrinology, we set out to examine how and why the Internet is utilized for HRI, the frequency of such activity, its impact, future information needs, and the effect of language.

METHODS: A mainly quantitative, embedded mixed-methods study was performed, employing a questionnaire survey. We included 312 patients (78.4% response rate).

RESULTS: OHI-seeking was reported by 175 patients (56.1%), especially in younger (p = 0.037) and more educated (p = 0.006) patients. OHI-seekers perceived OHI to be high-quality (135, 77.1%) but 104 (59.4%) were unaware of website certification tools. Among OHI-seekers, 63 (36.6%) reported positive behavioral changes after seeking OHI. Only 45 (25.7%) OHI-seekers discussed their gathered information with their endocrinologist. If an interactive e-learning module was available, 194/312 (62.2%) patients expressed willingness to use it, especially those reporting a need for more HRI (p = 0.024). Native speakers were more likely to report that OHI did not meet their information needs (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: OHI-seeking by patients attending the endocrinology outpatients is widely practiced. The availability of OHI in the native language and e-learning modules may enhance the utility of the Internet for health information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-505
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date20 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Health-related information
  • Patient education
  • Health information–seeking behavior
  • Doctor-patient relationships
  • Outpatients
  • Language skills
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Information Seeking Behavior
  • Male
  • Data Collection
  • Health Behavior
  • Young Adult
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Internet


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