Online health information seeking behaviours of parents of children undergoing surgery in a pediatric hospital in Rome, Italy: A survey

Luisa Russo, Ilaria Campagna, Beatrice Ferretti, Elisabetta Pandolfi, Marta Luisa Ciofi Degli Atti, Simone Piga, Sally Jackson, Caterina Rizzo, Francesco Gesualdo, Alberto E. Tozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: People increasingly search online for health information. Particularly, parents of patients often use the Internet as a source for health information. We conducted a survey to investigate the online searching behavior of parents of patients < 18 years, admitted for surgery in an Italian pediatric hospital. Methods: The cross-sectional survey was nested in a prospective cohort study on surgical procedures. Parents of patients undergoing surgical procedures at Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Rome, Italy, were enrolled and contacted by phone after the procedure. We recorded socio-demographic data, sex, length of stay following surgery, proximity of residence to the hospital, use of the internet to search for information on the surgery before and after the intervention and effect of information found online. Results: The majority (91%) of parents of children undergoing surgical intervention used the internet. Of these, 74.3% of parents searched for information before surgery, and 26.1% searched for information after. Most parents searched for information on the care provider's website. Two thirds of parents reported that information found online had increased their understanding of the child's condition. Multivariate analyses indicated that families living far from the hospital (> 43 km) were more likely to search for health information (OR 2.3; 95% CI 1.34-4.00), as were families of patients undergoing a major surgery (OR = 2.1; 95% CI 1.04-4.11). Conclusions: Parents of children undergoing surgery often search online for information on their child's intervention, in particular those whose child is scheduled for a major surgery and those living far from the hospital. A survey like the present one allows to understand parents' information needs, to better guide them in online information seeking and to better tailor information provided on the care provider's website.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
JournalItalian Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 29 2020


  • Children
  • Information search
  • Internet
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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