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Hand (N Y). 2019 Mar;14(2):277-283. doi: 10.1177/1558944717744340. Epub 2018 Jan 5.

Patient Preferences and Utilization of Online Resources for Patients Treated in Hand Surgery Practices.

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1 Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.
2 Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, USA.



The Internet is a widely used resource by patients however, objective data on details such as frequency of usage and specific sites visited is lacking. We surveyed patients from hand surgery practices to describe patient preferences and utilization patterns for online resources.


From October 2015 to June 2016, we enrolled patients presenting to 4 orthopedic hand surgeons at 2 academic institutions. Patients completed a survey, with questions related to their preference for learning about their diagnosis and Internet utilization both before and after the visit.


A total of 226 patients were enrolled in the study. Forty-five percent of the patients had done online research prior to the office visit, and 81% preferred to learn about their diagnosis through verbal communication, as opposed to only 8% who listed Web site information. Fifty percent indicated that there was a greater than 50% chance or they would definitely seek additional information on the Internet after the office visit. When asked to choose from a list of Web sites to visit, the most popular Web site was WebMD. Specialty society Web sites (American Society for Surgery of the Hand and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) were less popular.


This survey-based study found that a majority of patients utilize the Internet both before and after the office visit; however, they often utilize unregulated sites for information. This information can help physicians guide patients to high-quality Web sites for information on their clinical diagnosis and treatment.


Internet; hand surgery; online resources; patient education; patient preferences

[Available on 2020-03-01]

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