Background: Compared with the traditional ways of gaining health-related information from newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, the Internet is inexpensive, accessible, and conveys diverse opinions. Several studies on how increasing Internet use affected outpatient clinic visits were inconclusive. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the role of Internet use on ambulatory care-seeking behaviors as indicated by the number of outpatient clinic visits after adjusting for confounding variables. Methods: We conducted this study using a sample randomly selected from the general population in Taiwan. To handle the missing data, we built a multivariate logistic regression model for propensity score matching using age and sex as the independent variables. The questionnaires with no missing data were then included in a multivariate linear regression model for examining the association between Internet use and outpatient clinic visits. Results: We included a sample of 293 participants who answered the questionnaire with no missing data in the multivariate linear regression model. We found that Internet use was significantly associated with more outpatient clinic visits (P=.04). The participants with chronic diseases tended to make more outpatient clinic visits (P<.01). Conclusions: The inconsistent quality of health-related information obtained from the Internet may be associated with patients' increasing need for interpreting and discussing the information with health care professionals, thus resulting in an increasing number of outpatient clinic visits. In addition, the media literacy of Web-based health-related information seekers may also affect their ambulatory care-seeking behaviors, such as outpatient clinic visits.
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