Aim: An enormous amount of information about pediatric surgical conditions is available on the World Wide Web (www). Our aim was to ascertain how many parents accessed the www and how useful they found the exercise.
Method: Over a 2-month period, all parents attending the surgical outpatient clinics were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding Internet use in seeking more information about their child's condition. Parents were able to tick more than one option to the questions.
Results: A total of 271 questionnaires were collected and analyzed. There were 53% of responders who had accessed the www. Of this group, 93% used a computer at home, with 60% using the Internet daily. The most popular search engine used was Google (75%). There were 90% who used their child's condition as keyword(s), with 21% using their child's symptoms. The most popular information sought is as follows: Ninety-four percent found the Internet useful. Of this group, 18% considered the information too technical, 18% too distressing, and 2% insufficiently specific. Of the group who did not find the Internet useful (6%), 50% found little or no information, 38% too much information, and 13% thought the details were too technical. Only 25% discussed their findings with their surgeons. Of those who did not, most found that the information was already covered by the surgeons or was irrelevant.
Conclusion: The Internet is a useful educational tool in teaching parents about their child's condition. Parental use of the Internet is already widespread and may need to be specifically addressed during consultation. The best way to ensure that parents have access to quality and accurate information about their child's condition on the www, hence providing support, is to provide it ourselves.