Health information obtained from the internet and changes in medical decision making: Questionnaire development and cross-sectional survey

Yen Yuan Chen, Chia Ming Li, Jyh Chong Liang, Chin Chung Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The increasing utilization of the internet has provided a better opportunity for people to search online for health information, which was not easily available to them in the past. Studies reported that searching on the internet for health information may potentially influence an individual�s decision making to change her health-seeking behaviors. Objective: The objectives of this study were to (1) develop and validate 2 questionnaires to estimate the strategies of problem-solving in medicine and utilization of online health information, (2) determine the association between searching online for health information and utilization of online health information, and (3) determine the association between online medical help-seeking and utilization of online health information. Methods: The Problem Solving in Medicine and Online Health Information Utilization questionnaires were developed and implemented in this study. We conducted confirmatory factor analysis to examine the structure of the factor loadings and intercorrelations for all the items and dimensions. We employed Pearson correlation coefficients for examining the correlations between each dimension of the Problem Solving in Medicine questionnaire and each dimension of the Online Health Information Utilization questionnaire. Furthermore, we conducted structure equation modeling for examining the possible linkage between each of the 6 dimensions of the Problem Solving in Medicine questionnaire and each of the 3 dimensions of the Online Health Information Utilization questionnaire. Results: A total of 457 patients participated in this study. Pearson correlation coefficients ranged from .12 to .41, all with statistical significance, implying that each dimension of the Problem Solving in Medicine questionnaire was significantly associated with each dimension of the Online Health Information Utilization questionnaire. Patients with the strategy of online health information search for solving medical problems positively predicted changes in medical decision making (P=.01), consulting with others (P<.001), and promoting self-efficacy on deliberating the online health information (P<.001) based on the online health information they obtained. Conclusions: Present health care professionals have a responsibility to acknowledge that patients� medical decision making may be changed based on additional online health information. Health care professionals should assist patients� medical decision making by initiating as much dialogue with patients as possible, providing credible and convincing health information to patients, and guiding patients where to look for accurate, comprehensive, and understandable online health information. By doing so, patients will avoid becoming overwhelmed with extraneous and often conflicting health information. Educational interventions to promote health information seekers� ability to identify, locate, obtain, read, understand, evaluate, and effectively use online health information are highly encouraged.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb



  • Decision making
  • Help-seeking behavior
  • Internet
  • Literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

Cite this