Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology
Gastrointestinal Tract - Original Article

How the Internet influences the relationship between outpatients and gastroenterologists: A multicenter study

1.

University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Gr. T. Popa”, Iasi, Romania

2.

Institute of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Iasi, Romania

3.

Environmental Health Department, National Institute of Public Health - RcoPH, Iasi, Romania

4.

The Wingate Institute for Neurogastroenterology, Queen Mary University, United Kingdom

5.

Department of Gastroenterology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”, Bucharest, Romania

6.

Department of Gastroenterology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Craiova, Romania

7.

Department of Gastroenterology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Transilvania”, Brasov, Romania

8.

2nd Department of Medicine, “Iuliu Hatieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Turk J Gastroenterol 2020; 31: 17-22
DOI: 10.5152/tjg.2019.18353
Read: 268 Downloads: 243 Published: 02 January 2020

Background/Aims: The Internet offers a lot of non-filtered medical information which may interfere with the patient-doctor relationship. The aim of the present study was to assess the influence of the Internet on the classical doctor-patient relationship in gastroenterological outpatient settings.

Materials and Methods: A multicenter study was conducted, including a representative sample selected from five major regional medical centers throughout Romania. We designed a questionnaire which had two parts. One had to be filled out by adult patients on their first visit to a gastroenterology clinic and the other by physicians, stating the diagnosis and giving a doctor-patient collaboration score.

Results: From a total of 485 patients (49.9% females, mean age 50.42 years), 64.9% had Internet access, 75% out of whom searched for their symptoms online. University graduates searched for their symptoms online more often than secondary school graduates (80% vs. 31.1%, p<0.05). Most patients stated that they used the Internet to identify the most appropriate medical specialist for their condition. Internet users were less likely to visit a general practitioner (GP) before coming to a specialist (85.3% vs. 92.2%, odds ratio (OR) 0.491, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.24-0.98, p<0.05). Patients who had searched for their symptoms online were less likely to follow the treatment prescribed by the GP (53.6% vs. 67.5%, p=0.004), but they received a better collaboration score (OR 1.12, 95% CI 1.05-1.36, p<0.05).

Conclusion: The Internet exerts a positive influence on specialist doctor-patient relationship, but it might burden the health system with the incorrect tendency to replace the role of the GP.

Cite this article as: Drug VL, Chirila I, Albusoda A, et al. How the Internet influences the relationship between outpatients and gastroenterologists: A multicenter study. Turk J Gastroenterol 2020; 31(1): 17-22.

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