Most orthopaedic trauma patients are using the internet, but do you know where they're going?

Gavin S. Hautala, Shea M. Comadoll, Michael L. Raffetto, G. Wells Ducas, Cale A. Jacobs, Arun Aneja, Paul E. Matuszewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The Internet is a resource that patients can use to learn about their injuries, treatment options, and surgeon. Previously, it was demonstrated that orthopaedic trauma patients are unlikely to use a reliable, provided source. It is unknown however, if patients are seeking information from elsewhere. The purpose of this study was to determine if orthopaedic trauma patients utilize the Internet and what websites are utilized. Our hypothesis was that the majority of patients use the Internet and when they do, are unlikely to use a reliable source. Methods: Orthopaedic trauma patients were surveyed in clinic at a Level I trauma center in the United States. The survey queried demographics, injury information, Internet access, and eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS). Data were analyzed using t-tests, Chi-squared tests, and a multivariate logistic regression, as appropriate. Results: 138 patients with a mean age of 47.1 years (95% confidence interval: 44.0-50.3; 51.1% female) were included in the analysis. Despite 94.1% reporting access, only 55.8% of trauma patients used the Internet for information about their injury. Of those, 64.5% used at least one unreliable source. WebMD (54.8%) was the highest utilized website. Age, sex, employment, and greater eHEALS score were associated with increased Internet use (p<0.001). Conclusion: The Internet has potential to be a useful, low cost, and readily available informational source for orthopaedic trauma patients. This study illustrates that a majority of patients seek information from the Internet after their injury, including unreliable websites like Wikipedia and Facebook. Our study emphasizes the need for active referral to trusted websites and initiation of organizational partnerships (e.g. OTA/AAOS) with common content providers (e.g. WebMD) to provide patients with accurate information about their injury and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3299-3303
Number of pages5
JournalInjury
Volume52
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • Internet access
  • Internet use
  • Orthopaedic trauma
  • Websites
  • eHEALS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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