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D. S. Ong, R. L. Estes; Efficacy of Online Resources for the Pediatric Ophthalmologic Population: A Survey. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):5074.
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To answer the following study questions:1. Are parents/caregivers of children with ophthalmologic disorders currently using Internet resources to obtain more information about their child’s condition?2. Are currently available Internet resources helpful, appropriate, and comprehensive?3. How can existing resources be modified, especially if patients are encouraged to do further research?
An Internet search was performed on 77 topics in Pediatric Ophthalmology using multiple search engines (i.e. alltheweb, altavista, google, excite). The most informative websites were reviewed and one to two websites were selected for each topic (n=85). Patients 6 months to 18 years (n=190) were selected if their diagnosis/diagnoses correlated with the selected study websites. Parents/caregivers of these patients were given the following: 1. List of diagnoses and correlated website addresses with the appropriate diagnosis/website(s) marked, 2. Instructions on how to complete the online survey, and 3. Web address of online survey. Parents/caregivers were asked to first review the appropriate websites then to complete the survey. Reminders were sent a week later via either an email containing all the links or via phone.
Half (20/40) of parents/caregivers completing the survey had done previous Internet research on their child’s diagnosis. 93% (37/40) of survey participants found that the website(s) were helpful. 93% (37/40) found the information supplementary to their previous knowledge base. So far, no statistically significant relationship has been observed between previous Internet research conducted and how helpful parents/caregivers found the suggested study websites.
Although becoming more prevalent, Internet research on health topics is still not universal. Internet websites can be a useful adjunct to information provided during the office visit and parents/caregivers in general appear to be receptive to Internet resources provided by the clinician. Survey participants found that existing websites were helpful but need to be further addressed toward the lay person. An extensive search found few websites that were comprehensive yet also easy-to-understand, suggesting a need for review and possible development of additional sources.
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