Internet has become a significant resource for dissemination of medical information. We sought to investigate prevalence and usage patterns of Internet access among consecutive patients with cardiovascular diseases.Methods:
A cross-sectional study was performed using a questionnaire as study tool. Among patients with Internet access, the type of health information sought and the impact of these on daily life were assessed.Results:
Of 1063 patients invited to the study, 1000 patients [68% male gender, mean age 66 ± 11 years (range 27–83 years)] agreed to complete the questionnaire. 216/1000 (21.6%) used Internet to obtain information related to their disease. The patient education was graded as: low (15%), medium (66%) and high (19%). Reasons for Internet use were as follows: 24-h availability 142/216 (65.7%); free of charge 58/216 (26.9%); and anonymity 50/216 (23.2%). Younger (≤ 66 years) age (35.2% vs. 15.3%; p = 0.0001), male gender (24.6% vs. 15.4%; p = 0.001) and higher education level (49.4% vs. 16.1%; p = 0.001) were significantly associated with Internet use. 30.6% (66/216) of Internet users changed their individual health behaviour attributable to information found on the Internet. However, this was not related to age, gender or level of education (p = 0.5, p = 0.6 and p = 0.4, respectively). Patients without Internet use obtain health information mainly from the pharmacist (62%) or from their treating physician (58%).Conclusions:
A relevant number of patients with cardiovascular disease access the Internet for health information. The impact of such information on health-related behaviour in daily life was low.