Use of Electronic Health and Its Impact on Doctor-Visiting Decisions Among People With Diabetes: Cross-Sectional Study
Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate whether the use of eHealth might change patients’ decisions regarding doctor-seeking behavior and whether information acquired from the internet was discussed with a doctor.
Methods: We used email survey data collected in 2018 from members of the Norwegian Diabetes Association (aged 18 to 89 years) diagnosed with diabetes. Using logistic regressions, we studied patients’ internet-triggered changes in decisions regarding doctor visits; whether they discussed information from the internet with a doctor; and whether these topics were associated with gender, age, education, self-rated health, and self-reported anxiety/depression.
Results: Among the 895 informants, 75.4% (645/856) had never made an internet-triggered change of decision in any direction regarding visiting a doctor, whereas 16.4% (41/859) had decided to visit and 17.3% (148/856) had decided not to visit. The probability of changing decisions decreased with higher age and increased with the severity of self-reported anxiety/depression. Around half of the study participants (448/858, 52.2%) had never discussed information from the internet with a doctor. The probability of discussing internet information with a doctor was higher for those in bad/very bad self-rated health (odds ratio 2.12, CI 1.15-3.90) and for those with moderate self-reported anxiety/depression (odds ratio 2.30, CI 1.30-4.10).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that using eHealth has a significant impact on doctor-visiting decisions among people with diabetes, especially among people aged 18 to 39 years and among those reporting anxiety/depression. It is of great importance that the information posted is of high quality and that the large differences between internet-users regarding age as well as mental and somatic health status are taken into account. More research is needed to confirm and further explore the findings of this study.