The Internet as a resource for health information among chronic kidney disease patients

Open Access
Author:
Alhamad, Tarek
Graduate Program:
Public Health Sciences
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 07, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Nasrollah Ghahramani, Thesis Advisor
  • William Robert Reeves, Thesis Advisor
  • Umar Farooq, Thesis Advisor
  • Vernon Michael Chinchilli, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • Internet access
  • kidney disease
Abstract:
Background: The Internet has become increasingly popular as a source of medical information as more patients “go online.” The degree of the Internet access among chronic kidney disease (CKD) population has not been reported. Objective: To determine CKD patients’ access to the Internet and to evaluate their perceptions of the quality of this information. Methods: Cross sectional self-administered survey among CKD patients and internal medicine patients recruited during routine outpatient visits to University clinics in Hershey, PA. Results: A total of 133 surveys from patients attending nephrology clinic, and 85 from internal medicine were included. Among nephrology patients, the mean age of respondents was 65 years, 18.8% had greater than a high school education and the majority were Caucasian (91%). 74% of Nephrology respondents reported having Internet access. Compared to the respondents from internal medicine clinic, Nephrology respondents were older and less likely to be employed, to have high income, advanced education, Internet access, or own a smart phone. In addition, they were less likely to search for health information online and to communicate with their providers by e-mail. Of the Nephrology respondents with Internet access, 72 (77.4%) reported searching for medical information within the previous 12 months, and the majority thought that finding health information was easy and reliable. Only 7.2% were advised to visit specific websites by their providers and more than half did not discuss the searched information with their providers. Conclusion: Internet access and the use of the Internet to search for health information are relatively common among CKD patients. Providers should be aware of this source of health information, be prepared to guide their patients to reliable websites and discuss any possible sought information.