Experiences, practices and barriers to accessing health information: a qualitative study

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Background: With technology advancements making vast amounts of health
information available whenever and wherever it is required, there is a growing need to understand how this information is being accessed and used.
Objective: Our aim was to explore patients/public and health professionals’
experiences, practices and preferences for accessing health information.
Methods: Focus groups were conducted with 35 healthcare professionals (31
nurses and 4 allied health professionals) and 14 patients/members of the public.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 5 consultants, who were unable to attend the focus groups. Data collection took place between March and May 2013 and all data were analysed thematically.
Results: Health professionals and patients/members of the public reported
primarily accessing health information to inform their decision making for
providing and seeking treatment respectively. For all participants the internet wasthe primary mechanism for accessing health information, with health professionals’access affected by open access charges; time constraints and access to computers.Variation in how patients/members of the public and health professionals appraisethe quality of information also emerged, with a range of techniques for assessingquality reported.
Conclusions: There was a clear preference for accessing health information onlinewithin our sample. Given that this information is central to both patient and healthprofessionals’ decision making, it is essential that these individuals are basing theirdecisions on high quality information. Findings from this study have implications for educationalists, health professionals, policymakers and the public.
Keywords: Information; Information Technology; Health information; e-health:
Qualitative research
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103–108
Number of pages6
JournalInternational journal of medical informatics
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

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