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Should patients be encouraged to use the internet to seek health information?

  • Comments (2)

Wilson V (2013) Patient use of the internet for diabetes information. Nursing Times; 109: 23, 18-20.

“The internet can provide excellent health information to support people with diabetes in self-management and care. This small-scale study reports how 30 people with long-term diabetes accessed general health information relating to their condition, and the type of information they sought.

“The internet was seen as a fast, convenient source of answers to general diabetes health questions. Specific information needs, such as insulin dosage adjustment, were retained until the annual diabetes check at the hospital with a diabetes consultant or diabetes specialist nurse.”

Let’s discuss…

  • What dangers could patients be exposed to if seeking health information on the internet?
  • Would you ever refer a patient to a website for further information?
  • Do you use the internet, yourself, when you’re not sure of something or to clarify?
  • Comments (2)

Readers' comments (2)

  • Dr "Googe" can be very dangerous !

    Go here

    This site claims Type I diabetes can be "cured" in 30 days by eating only vegetables, seeds and nuts!

    Such wonderful information and all available for free !

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  • Anonymous

    Expecting patients to make use of the Internet can have benefits for some if they go to trusted sites that are easy to use, and can help the patient/ person with long term conditions such as diabetes have more control over their health. Whilst the younger generation are usually computer literate and at ease with modern technology many of the older generation are not. As information from NHS bodies, public bodies such as NICE, DWP move towards a paperless health service there is a danger that some patients, because they cannot use or afford a computer, tablet,or the latest Hi tech mobile phone will be denied independent access to information such as helpful leaflets about their health conditions, being able to claim essential welfare benefits. The Equality Act 2010 makes it clear that you should not discriminate against those with protected characteristics such as disability, age or ethnicity etc.
    How can the NHS meet its Equality Duty as it reduces the ways how people receive information, from hospital appointments, information about procedures, conditions, and general health? It is too easy to forget that at least 20% of the population are not computer literate, others do not have reliable Internet access at home especially in many rural areas. Impairments such as poor vision or dexterity may limit use. Many people cannot afford the latest technology, and cannot access the Internet elsewhere due to mobility difficulties and lack of transport. We need to use the most accessible means of information for each individual patient and never make assumptions.
    New technology to deliver healthcare and health information is great for some, but may deny others access to basic care.

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