Patient Goals for Presenting Internet Research to Docs Vary

These goals influence patients' perception of their provider's handling of the conversation

THURSDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- When cancer patients approach their doctors with Internet research regarding their disease, their goals for the conversation affect how they perceive their provider's responses (attributions), according to a study published online May 17 in the Journal of Applied Communication Research.

Christina M. Sabee, Ph.D., from the San Francisco State University, and colleagues analyzed responses from 238 cancer patients regarding their experiences talking with their health care providers about their Internet research.

The researchers found that patients had seven different goals for discussing Internet research with their health care provider, including seeking an opinion or advice, verifying information, managing impression, learning, and testing. Knowledge or lack of knowledge about a field, being open to new treatments, being strict about treatments, and being collaborative in decision making are some of the reasons patients cited to explain their health provider's response to being presented with Internet information. Patients' goals for the conversation partially explained the differences in the attributions that patients made.

"The driving goals that patients have for their conversations about online health research may influence how they perceive their doctors' responses," Sabee said in a statement. "Practitioners, by learning more about their patients' specific goals and desired outcomes of discussing online health information, might encourage more positive feelings and, consequently, better health."

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