Objectives: To understand what patients expect from physicians regarding information seeking on the Internet.
Design: Self-administered survey.
Setting/participants: Waiting rooms of 4 community-based primary care offices.
Measurements/main results: Of 494 patients invited to participate, 330 completed the survey for a response rate of 67%. Of 177 respondents who used the Internet for health information, only 15% agreed that physicians should ask them about their Internet searches. Most (62%) agreed that physicians should recommend specific web sites where patients can learn more about their health care.
Conclusions: Primary care physicians should recognize that many patients would like guidance as they turn to the Internet for medical information. Physicians can utilize quality assessment tools and existing resources that facilitate referring patients to authoritative, commercial-free, patient-oriented medical information on the Internet.