Data from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) show that the Internet is the first place people go to when they need information about health or medical topics. Searches for online health information have both benefits and challenges for patient-physician communication. To fully appreciate these issues, it is important to understand the following: (1) who is going online; (2) why are they going; (3) where are they going; (4) what needs are being met; and (5) how, if at all, do they discuss health information found online with their doctors. The objective of this mini-review is to highlight contemporary issues regarding the impact of the internet on patient-physician communication and to present directions for future research. PATIENT SUMMARY: The growing use of the Internet has implications for people seeking information on health matters. Our review shows that the Internet can be helpful for patient-physician communication, but this depends on the quality of health information found and whether the information is discussed during medical visits.
Keywords: Communication; Health communication; Information-seeking behavior; Internet; Patients; Physicians; Prostatic neoplasms; Urology.
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