Click on the icon on the upper right hand side for the article by Shmuel Giveon, MD, John Yaphe, MD, Igal Hekselman, MD, Sara Mahamid, MD and Doron Hermoni, MD.
IMAJ 2009: 9: September: 537-541
Background: The internet has transformed the patient-physician relationship by empowering patients with information. Because physicians are no longer the primary gatekeepers of medical information, shared decision making is now emerging as the hallmark of the patient-physician relationship.
Objectives: To assess the reactions of primary care physicians to encounters in which patients present information obtained from the internet (e-patients) and to examine the influence of the physicians' personal and demographic characteristics on their degree of satisfaction with e-patients.
Methods: A questionnaire was developed to assess physician attitudes to e-patients, their knowledge and utilization of the internet, and their personal and professional characteristics. Family physicians in central Israel were interviewed by telephone and in person at a continuing medical education course.
Results: Of the 100 physicians contacted by phone, 93 responded to the telephone interviews and 50 physicians responded to the questionnaire in person. There was an 85% response rate. The mean age of respondents was 49 years. Most physicians were born in Israel, with a mean seniority of 22 years. Most had graduated in Eastern Europe, were not board certified and were employees of one of the four health management organizations in Israel. Most physicians responded positively when data from the internet were presented to them by patients (81%). A number of respondents expressed discomfort in such situations (23%). No association was found between physician satisfaction in relationships with patients and comfort with data from the internet presented by patients.
Conclusions: Physicians in this sample responded favorably to patients bringing information obtained online to the consultation. Though it may be difficult to generalize findings from a convenience sample, Israeli family physicians appear to have accepted internet use by patients.