Role of the Internet as an information resource for surgical patients: a survey of 877 patients

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This study was conducted to provide preliminary data regarding current Internet use practices for information about anaesthesia in patients undergoing elective surgical procedures at a major academic institution.


With IRB approval, 2936 patients coming for preanaesthetic evaluation at a tertiary academic hospital's preadmission testing (PAT) centre were invited to voluntarily participate in a 20-item questionnaire designed to obtain participants' characteristics and Internet use for information pertaining to their upcoming surgery. Data were analysed using statistical software SAS (Cary, NC, USA). Descriptive statistics were calculated for continuous variables using mean (SD), and for categorical data using n (%). Association analysis was performed using the Fisher's exact test.


Eight hundred and seventy-seven patients (30%) responded. Of these, 356 (41%) looked for information about their medical condition, 321 (37%) for their surgery, 279 (32%) for surgeon, 163 (19%) for the hospital, and only 36 (4%) for information regarding anaesthesia. Of these 36 patients, 14 (39%) said the sites they used helped answer their questions regarding anaesthesia. Of the 831 patients who did not use the Internet for anaesthesia, 503 (57%) indicated that they would be receptive to being directed to specific websites for anaesthesia.


Of the patients coming for elective surgery who responded (30%), the majority did not use the Internet to seek information regarding anaesthesia. Respondents indicated a high degree of interest in being directed to appropriate websites for further information. These results suggest that it may be beneficial to include information regarding reliable web-based resources to interested patients at preoperative visits.

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