Internet use and perceptions of information reliability by parents in a neonatal intensive care unit

J Perinatol. 2003 Jul-Aug;23(5):420-4. doi: 10.1038/


Objectives: To assess Internet use and perceptions of formation reliability by parents in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Study design: A standardized questionnaire study.

Results: A total of 100 parents were approached and 90% participated. In all, 79% owned a computer, 85.5% had Internet access, and 75.5% regularly spent >1 to 2 hour/day on the computer. There was a significant reduction in the proportion of parents using the Internet after birth of their baby (before birth: nonmedical searches 84% and medical searches 47%; after birth: nonmedical searches 40% and medical searches 29%; p<0.0001 and <0.03, respectively). Internet access was more likely in those with higher level of education (p=0.006) and fluency in reading English (p=0.05). In all, 80% considered the NICU doctors as a reliable source of medical information compared with 10% in the case of the Internet.

Conclusions: Although a considerable proportion of parents use the Internet for medical information, many still view the information obtained as unreliable.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics*
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Probability
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires