Where do parents turn for information about children's health--and why?

Parents are hungry for information about their children's health conditions--and often turn to the Internet for answers. One recent study aimed to find out why.

Researchers in Australia surveyed parents and found that they were more likely to use online information to increase their understanding about a diagnosis or treatment than they were to diagnose and/or treat their child's health issues.

Psycho-social determinants often drove parents' decisions to use online information for their child's healthcare, according to the researchers. For example, parents with a positive attitude about using online information and those who perceived that other parents seek and use online health information were more likely to seek out information online to diagnose/treat their child's health issues and to increase understanding about their child's diagnosis/treatment.

Meanwhile, providers increasingly are looking for ways to engage patients and their families in their own health data--a focus of the Meaningful Use incentive program. Guiding parents to reputable sources of information is one place to start.

"There is an urgent need for health professionals to provide parents with evidence-based child health websites in addition to general population education on how to evaluate the quality of online health information," the authors wrote. 

To learn more: 
- read the study

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