Use of internet as source of medical information and its impact among young Transylvanian Hungarian people - a comparative study

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Abstract

The internet is the most popular information source in our digital world. Studies confirm that numerous people are using the internet to look up health-related information. There is no information about this trend among the Transylvanian Hungarian population. Our purpose was to assess the role of the internet in answering health-related problems for young Hungarian Transylvanian people, and its impact.

The participants (N=351) completed an online questionnaire with 28 items, which was available on Facebook, on the first page indicating their consent to a voluntary and anonymous survey. Our target was the generation below the age of 45. Descriptive, then comparative analysis was performed, based on gender and region of origin.

95.3% of the participants used the internet for finding health-related information, diagnosis, treatment or diet, without significant difference between subgroups, 70% at least once a month. Only 3.3% were instructed by their physician about the websites that provide health information, while 90% would require it. At least 64% of the respondents makes self-diagnosis at least sometimes, women more often, and nearly 25% frequently or always check the doctor’s opinion and/or the recommended treatment online. 40% of cases consider that their self-diagnosis was often the same as the physician’s final diagnosis, but only 33,2% agreed totally with their doctor. 47,4% of them were scared and/or became worried because of the information from the internet, especially women.

Based on the above, it is clear that online health information overtakes the traditional doctor-centered health information and makes it necessary for us to change our perspective of digital healthcare.

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