Study objectives: To determine how frequently patients attending a lung cancer clinic use the Internet for their own health information, to determine whether there are demographic differences between Internet users and nonusers, and to determine how patients compare the quality of Internet information with other sources of lung cancer information.
Design: Sequentially administered patient questionnaire. One hundred eighty-four patients were surveyed, and 139 patients (75.5%) completed the questionnaire.
Setting: A multidisciplinary thoracic oncology clinic in a Midwestern University hospital.
Patients or participants: Patients attending the multidisciplinary thoracic oncology clinic over a 3-month period.
Measurements and results: The Internet was the most commonly used nonphysician source of information among our patients. Sixteen percent of the patients sought information on the Internet, but 60% expressed interest in using the Internet for information. Users were on average of higher income level and educational attainment but did not differ from nonusers by community size. Internet users rated the quality of information available on the Internet of similar quality to information from all sources.
Conclusions: Older patients are increasing using the Internet for self-education in lung cancer. While certain barriers continue to exist, patients from rural areas use the Internet to the same degree, as do patients from urban areas. Patients do, however, overrate the quality of information on the Internet.