C50. Rice, R. E. & Katz, J. E. (2006). Internet use in physician practice and patient interaction. In M. Murero & R.E. Rice (Eds). The Internet and health care: Theory, research and practice (pp. 149-176). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


This chapter analyses a national random survey of physicians (n=1050) concerning their interaction with other physicians and with their patients as affected by their patients’ use of the Internet. Results are juxtaposed with prior research according to six aspects of this interaction: characteristics of (1) physicians (such as evaluations of public health information) and (2) their patients (such as number of patients); use of the Internet by (3) physicians (such as emailing their patients) and (4) their patients (such as talking to their physicians about Internet information, patients’ assessment of health websites); and outcomes for (5) physicians (such as overall evaluation of how this information affected the physician-patient relation) and (6) their patients (such as effects of the online health information on communication with their physician).  From 4% to 24% of the variance in physician and patient Internet uses was explained by factors such as physician evaluation of public health information and the accuracy of Internet information, their assessment of the effects of that information, encouraging patients to look for medical information, and patient characteristics.  From 11% to 24% of the variance in physician and patient outcomes was explained by factors such as physicians’ use of email to communicate with their patients, referring patients to specific websites, and physician evaluations of the accuracy, relevance and reliability of the Internet information their patients talk about.  The strongest influences on usage overall are physicians’ perceptions of the evaluation, accuracy and effects of publicly available health information and encouraging their patients to look for their own medical and health information.  The strongest influences on outcomes overall are physicians’ use of email to communicate with their patients, their evaluations of the accuracy and relevance of the online health information their patients talk about, and how good their patients are at assessing health websites.

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