The Internet - a patient’s friend or foe?

Jessica Monaghan, Catriona O'Hare*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction: Patients are increasingly using the internet for information about their oral health. However, they require guidance regarding the quality of material obtained from online sources. The potential for misinformation or misinterpretation by patients regarding dental information remains an issue.
Aim: The purpose of the study was to assess the demographics of those who accessed the Internet and their attitudes towards the quality and usefulness of the information it provided. Objectives: • To discover the most commonly used websites by patients. • To determine how the information, they obtained online affected their perceptions of their condition or upcoming treatment. • To determine the accuracy of the online information. • To compare the online information with the information given to them in clinic.
Method: A structured questionnaire was distributed to 150 patients attending oral surgery and oral medicine outpatient clinics.
Results: Thirty-one percent of patients had used the Internet prior to their outpatient appointment. Thirty percent used online forums and the remaining 70% used websites. Seventy-two percent of patients found the online information useful. Sixty-nine percent of patients stated the information online was consistent with the information given to them in clinic. Fifty percent of patients felt more positive about their oral treatment and/or condition after online research with 34% more negative about their treatment and/or condition and the remainder unsure. The most commonly used website was NHS choices. The patients who used this website appeared to have a more positive experience than other websites. Conclusion: The results show that there are a number of accurate and reliable websites available for patients to access. However, dentist -led direction for patients regarding the quality control of information sources online is important. We intend to improve our patient information leaflets by including a list of relevant validated websites. It is hoped this will reduce misinformation and anxiety for patients.
Conflict of interests: None
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 05 Dec 2018
EventAssociation of British Academic Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons : Annual Scientific Meeting - University of Cardiff, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Duration: 05 Dec 201807 Dec 2018


ConferenceAssociation of British Academic Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Abbreviated titleABAOMS
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Oral Surgery
  • Internet
  • patient information and support


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