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.
- Information search
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health