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Patients Seek Internet Rx

People are twice as likely to go online for information about medical procedures than ask their doctors, survey says

FRIDAY, Nov. 8, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- People seeking information about medical procedures are more than twice as likely to get it from the Internet as they are from their doctors, says a survey by the American Academy of Dermatology.

However, a doctor's recommendation carries the most weight in a person's decision about choosing a medical procedure, the survey says.

The telephone survey of 800 adult men and women revealed that 67 percent of them consider the Internet their preferred source of information about medical procedures. Only 33 percent said they consult their doctor for such information. However, 70 percent said it's their doctor's advice that influences their final decision about a medical procedure.

Other sources of information concerning medical procedures include: family, friends and other people who have had the procedure (39 percent); medical journals and books (32 percent); registered nurses or other health-care professionals (16 percent); public libraries, encyclopedias (16 percent); and magazines, newspapers and television (13 percent).

The survey also found that 62 percent of the respondents said they feel their decisions about health care in general are very well informed, and 76 percent said they do their own research when making a decision about a medical procedure.

Fifty-four percent of the respondents said they ask their doctors about their experience with medical procedures, and 39 percent said they ask their doctors about their credentials.

The academy recommends that when people are researching medical procedures, they ask their doctors about their experience and credentials. That includes asking how many of the procedures the doctor has performed, what kind of results can be expected, potential risks, cost, and where the doctor will perform the procedure.

More information

The Journal of the American Medical Association has a patient education page.

SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, news release, October 2002
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