Factors affecting seeking health-related information through the internet among patients in Kuwait
Background: The internet is a powerful worldwide communication medium that provides its users with immediate information irrespective of their location, culture, language and time. E-health service will have a great impact in reducing the costs of health care, increasing satisfaction of patients and health professionals, and minimizing the burden on health facilities.
Objective: This study aims to determine the proportion of patients who obtain health-related information through the internet as well as factors that could affect using the internet for seeking health information.
Subjects and methods: This study was conducted in six general hospitals in Kuwait. A cross-sectional study was adopted to determine the proportion of patients who obtain health-related information through the internet. It was followed by a case-control study to determine factors that could be associated with online search of health information. A questionnaire was used which included data related to sociodemographic characteristics, clinical history and computer experience. The final analysis included 220 participants.
Results: The majority of participants (93.2%) mentioned that they have used the internet for one or more purposes. Only 129 participants (62.9%) used the internet for obtaining health related information. All studied socio-demographic factors, except age and marital state, and computer skills variables had significant effect on on-line search for health information. After adjustment for confounding, only gender, nationality, level of education, and using computer at work were proved to be significant determinants of the outcome of interest.
Conclusion: It is important to close the gap in health literacy and increase the use of health information technology to support patient self-management. The creation of an eHealth-literate population should be a priority in Kuwaiti public health policy.
Keywords: Health information, Seeking, Internet