A health website recommendation from Gold Coast general practitioners to their patients: A mixed method approach
Introduction: To identify health website recommendation trends by Gold Coast (Australia) general ractitioners (GPs) to their patients. Method A mixed method approach to data collection and analysis was employed. Quantitative data were ollected using a prepaid postal survey, consisting of 17 questions, mailed to 250 (61 per cent) of 410 GPs n the Gold Coast (Australia). The resulting empirical data and resulting themes were further used to design semi-structured interview questions. A total of 15 (8 male, 7 female) GPs volunteered to be interviewed. Results Fifty-nine per cent of participating GPs recommend health websites to their patients during onsultations. Male GPs (63 per cent), those aged 41-50 years (55 per cent), and those practising for < 10 years (60 per cent) were more inclined to recommend a health website to a patient. From the survey data, eight principle categories presented themselves as to GPs' recommendation trends, these including; 'Do not recommend websites' - (1) Limited time, (2) Prefer to personally discuss, (3) Reliability issues, (4) Biased information - and 'Do recommend health websites' - (5) Helps to educate patient, (6) Enhances the doctor-patient relationship, (7) Age-appropriate technology, (8) Treatment orientated. The semi-structured interviews presented a further eight sub-categories and have been identified as: (1) Fewer female GPs than male GPs recommend health websites, (2) Age and years of experience of GPs affect internet prescription trends, (3) Patients more knowledgeable, (4) 'Sweeteners' offered by pharmaceutical companies, (5) A high influence by pharmaceutical companies on the WWW/internet, (6) A lack of knowledge pertaining to reliability issues - issues of trust, (7) Limited knowledge pertaining to interactivity and usability components, and (8) A need for further medical education for GPs. Conclusion More than half of the surveyed GPs actively recommend websites to their patients, with a GP's sex, age and years of experience influencing his or her recommendation decisions. There are numerous and varied reasons as to why GPs 'do' or 'do not' recommend health websites to their patients. Web-based continuing medical education courses or programmes in medical schools may help GPs develop the skills necessary for the delivery of effective e-health care.
Health Education Journal
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