Study Finds Web Is Fundamentally Changing Patient-Doctor Relationship

Analysis of the public's use of health care information derived from the Internet

In November 1997, the Center for Research on the Information Society at Rutgers University conducted a survey of consumers and physicians on the use and quality of health care information on the Internet.

Key Findings

  • The principal investigator reported the following findings on the consumer survey to RWJF:

    • Some 41 percent of consumers used the Internet to access health care information; these people tended to be more skillful at using the Internet, and more likely to be female, white and older.
    • Some 73 percent of those who accessed Internet health care information shared their findings with others; 37 percent shared findings with a health care professional.
    • Only one third of those who accessed Internet health care information rated their most recent visit to a health care site as "highly valuable."
  • The principal investigator reported the following findings on the provider survey to RWJF:

    • Three out of five physicians surveyed used the Internet for professional purposes; users tended to be younger.
    • Physicians had significant concerns about the Internet's trustworthiness as a source of information.
    • Physicians reported that a high percentage of their patients presented queries based on their own Internet investigations on the Internet; physicians were willing to guide patients on using the information.
    • Physicians expressed strong interest in using the Internet for professional training and development.