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Health Rep. 2008 Mar;19(1):65-9.

Getting a second opinion: health information and the Internet.

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Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6.


In 2005, more than one-third of Canadian adults used the Internet to search for health information. And of those who also visited a doctor, more than one-third discussed the results of their Internet search with their physician. This study raises important considerations. First, it is anticipated that as more Canadians access the Internet, online searches for health information will increase. However, the accuracy and reliability of Internet information on any topic can vary widely. Internet sources of health information range from personal accounts of illnesses and patient discussion groups to clinical decision tools and peer-reviewed journal articles. Second, the use of the Internet to search for health information appears to be unevenly distributed among Canadians. Searching for health information online is an example of what has been described as a second level digital divide among Internet users.

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