Lingering questions and doubts: Online information-seeking of support forum members following their medical visits

Robert A Bell, Xinyi Hu, Sharon E. Orrange, Richard L Kravitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the prevalence and predictors of patients' post-appointment online health information-seeking and the reasons behind their information searches. Methods: Survey of 274 Internet support community members who had been seen by a physician within 30 days. The questionnaire included measures of trust in the physician, health worries, changes in amount of worrying following the visit, online health information-seeking, and standard demographic and visit characteristics. Results: A majority of respondents (68%) went online in search of information after their visits. In a logistic regression analysis, going online was associated with lower trust (P= .002), greater worrying (P= .049), and becoming more (P= .024) or less worried (P= .05) by the visit. Among those who went online, the most common reasons for doing so were sheer curiosity (71%) and disappointment with some aspect of the physician's behavior (32%). Conclusion: Patients in this online forum routinely turned to the Internet after their medical visits, but were especially likely to do so when trust in the physician was low, anxieties were high, and the visit altered (for better or worse) their anxiety levels. Practice Implications: Since many patients seek online information after their appointments, physicians should suggest credible websites suited to the circumstances of each patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-528
Number of pages4
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Health anxiety
  • Information
  • Internet
  • Online
  • Patient trust
  • Seeking
  • World wide web
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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