lack of familiarity or of access were the main explanations peoplevolunteered when asked if they had sought internet information.Use of the internet by patientsUntil recently articles in medical journals about the internet havefocused on concerns about the quality of health information.2Some of our respondents voiced concerns about the difficulty ofdistinguishing between good and bad information on the web,but it is notable that they only expressed this concern for other,less wary people. In reporting their own internet use, theydisplayed considerable caution and competence and describedtechniques (such as comparing different information sources) toensure that they were not misled.The main contribution of this study is to show the many dif-ferent ways in which the internet seems to be used by peoplewith a serious illness, at all stages of their illness and follow up.We have also shown how patients’ ability to become expert intheir own condition may contribute to changes in relationshipsbetween patients and doctors. Patients who are concerned aboutthe effects of cost constraints on health care (concerns that pre-date the widespread use of the internet) are able to use the webto seek reassurance about their treatment. Patients also want toknow more about complementary approaches to treatment, but,as others have shown, may be anxious not to jeopardise theirrelationship with their doctors by revealing their interest in selftreatment.20 21As Jadad and colleagues recently suggested, “It willtake time and effort to reach the point where the assertivepatient is recognised as the ‘good’ one. Ignorance, fear, inertia,and stubbornness remain to be overcome.”18The desire tocanvass an informal (and therefore face saving) second opinion
This is the end of the preview.
access the rest of the document.