Objective: To investigate the use of the Internet as a pain information seeking tool among a population of patients attending a chronic pain clinic. Methods: A bespoke self-completing questionnaire was given to 150 patients attending 17 consecutive chronic pain clinics at The Royal Perth Hospital during August and September 2007. Results: One hundred twenty-two completed surveys were received, a response rate of 81%. Only 23.8% of the patients had used the Internet to access pain-related health care information. There was no gender difference between those who did and did not access the Internet for information. Age group, highest educational level attained, and the availability of Internet access were all significantly associated with the use of the Internet to search for pain-related information. 41.4% described the information they found as useful, 6.9% found it frightening and 10.3% found it confusing. Forty-four percent wanted more information to be available on the Internet while only 6.9% planned to discuss their findings with their doctor. Conclusions: When compared with other studies about patient information-seeking behavior, a smaller than expected percentage of patients attending chronic pain clinics in Perth used the Internet to search for information about pain. There are a variety of reasons for this that would suggest that health care professionals should not be complacent but seek to maximize the potential of the Internet to inform our patients by advising them how and where to look for relevant information.
- Chronic Pain
- Patient Information