A recent study3–
in an internal medicine practice revealed that, utilizing the most conservative estimating methods, 27% of patients use the Internet to obtain health or medical information. This number is in concordance with previously published studies,4
although Peterson and Fretz1
obtained a result of 16%. With the proportion of patients using the Internet for health information increasing, health professionals should command a greater awareness of online health and medical resources that are available to patients. This does not mean that health professionals should exert more control over online resources. There are several organizations, including the Health on the Net Foundation, the Internet Healthcare Coalition, and Health Internet Ethics, that monitor the quality of online health information.3
Rather, it is imperative that objective evidence about the efficacy of Internet-based patient education materials be gathered by health-care researchers. A detailed analysis of this data may then be applied to ensuring patients’ access to high-caliber health and medical information online.