- Health information needs
- Sources for health information
- Doctor-patient communication
- National cross-sectional survey
The need to understand preferred sources of health information remains important to providing patient-centered care. The Internet remains a popular resource for health information, but more traditional sources may still be valid for patients during a recent health need. This study sought to understand the characteristics of patients that turn to their doctor or healthcare provider first for a recent health or medical information need.
Using the national cross-sectional survey, Health Information National Trend Study [HINTS], characteristics of those who sought a doctor or healthcare provider for a recent health information need were compared to other sources. Weighted survey responses from Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 of the HINTS survey were used for multivariable logistic regression.
A total 5,307 patient responses were analyzed. Overall, those who seek a doctor or healthcare provider first for a health need are female, 46–64 years, White non-Hispanic, educated, in good health and users of the Internet. Yet, adjusted logistic regressions showed that those who sought a doctor or healthcare provider first during a recent health information need compared to other sources were most likely to be 65+ years, in poor health, less educated and have health insurance.
Patients who seek their doctor or healthcare provider first for health information rather than other sources of information represent a unique population. Doctors or healthcare providers remain an important resource for these patients during recent needs, despite the wide use of the Internet as a source of health information.