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Qualitative content analysis of questions asked by visitors to an orthopaedics Web site

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Location: http://www.jmir.org/2003/4/e24/

Description: This study analyzes what people search for when they use a health-education Web site offering information about arthritis, orthopaedics, and sports-medicine topics. Additionally, it determines who is performing these searches: is it patients, friends or relatives of patients, or neither? Finally, it examines the similarities and differences among questions submitted by Web site visitors from different countries. METHODS: Content analysis was performed on 793 free-text search queries submitted to a patient-education Web site owned and operated by the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center. The 793-query data set was coded into 3 schemes: (1) the purpose of the query, (2) the topic of the query, and (3) the relationship between the asker of the query and the patient. We determined the country from which each query was submitted by analyzing the Internet Protocol addresses associated with the queries. RESULTS: The 5 most frequent reasons visitors searched the Web site were to seek: (1) information about a condition, (2) information about treatment, (3) information about symptoms, (4) advice about symptoms, and (5) advice about treatment. We were able to determine the relationship between the person submitting the query and the patient in question for 178 queries. Of these, the asker was the patient in 140 cases, and the asker was a friend or relative of the patient in 38 cases. The queries were submitted from 34 nations, with most coming from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. When comparing questions submitted from the United States versus those from all other countries, the 3 most frequent types of questions were the same for both groups (and were the top 3 question types listed above). CONCLUSIONS: These results provide the University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, as well as other organizations that provide health-information Web sites, with data about what people around the world are seeking when they turn to the Internet for health information. If Web site managers can adapt their health-information Web sites in response to these findings, patients may be able to find and use Internet-based health information more successfully, enabling them to participate more actively in their health care.
What are patients seeking when they turn to the Internet? Qualitative content analysis of questions asked by visitors to an orthopaedics Web site. Shuyler KS, Knight KM. J Med Internet Res. 2003 Oct 10;5(4):e24.

Type: Reference Material
Author/Contact: Shuyler KS, Knight KM.
Institution: J Med Internet Res.
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Language: English

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Added: Wed Nov 18 2009