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Dr Google Is Here to Stay but Health Care Professionals Are Still Valued: An Analysis of Health Care Consumers’ Internet Navigation Support Preferences


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Lee, K ORCID: 0000-0003-3022-4868, Hoti, K, Hughes, Jeffery David and Emmerton, L 2017 , 'Dr Google Is Here to Stay but Health Care Professionals Are Still Valued: An Analysis of Health Care Consumers’ Internet Navigation Support Preferences' , Journal of medical Internet research, vol. 19, no. 6 , pp. 1-9 , doi: 10.2196/jmir.7489.

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Background: The Internet offers great opportunities for consumers to be informed about their health. However, concerns havebeen raised regarding its impact on the traditional health consumer-health professional relationship. Our recent survey of 400Australian adults identified that over half of consumers required some form of navigational support in locating appropriateWeb-based health information. We propose that support provided by health professionals would be preferred by consumers; thispreference is regardless of whether consumers have a need for navigational support. Secondary analysis of the survey dataset ispresented here to quantify consumer-reported support preferences and barriers when navigating Web-based health information.Objective: We aimed to quantitatively identify consumers’ support preferences for locating Web-based health information andtheir barriers when navigating Web-based health information. We also aimed to compare such preferences and barriers betweenconsumers identified as needing and not needing support when locating Web-based health information.Methods: Chi-square (χ2) tests identified whether each listed support preference differed between subgroups of consumersclassified as needing (n=205, 51.3%) or not needing (n=195, 48.8%) navigational support; degree of association, via phi coefficient(φ) tests, were also considered to ascertain the likely practical significance of any differences. This was repeated for each listedbarrier. Free-text responses regarding additional support preferences were descriptively analyzed and compared with the quantitativefindings to provide a richer understanding of desired support for health information searches.Results: Of the 400 respondents, the most preferred mode of navigational support was involvement of health professionals; thiswas reported by participants identified as needing and not needing navigational support. While there was a significant differencebetween groups, the degree of association was small (χ21[N=400]=13.2; PConclusions: Despite concerns in the literature that the popularity of the Internet could compromise the health consumer-healthprofessional relationship, our findings suggest the contrary. Our findings showed that health professionals were found to be the most commonly preferred mode of navigational support, even among consumers classified as not needing navigational support.Further research into how health professionals could assist consumers with Web-based health information seeking could strengthenthe health consumer-health professional relationship amidst the growing use of “Dr Google.”

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Lee, K and Hoti, K and Hughes, Jeffery David and Emmerton, L
Keywords: eHealth; Chronic Disease; Self-Management; Internet; Information Behavior
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of medical Internet research
Publisher: JMIR Publications
ISSN: 1438-8871
DOI / ID Number: 10.2196/jmir.7489
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 The AuthorsLicensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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