Currently accepted at: Interactive Journal of Medical Research
Date Submitted: May 27, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: May 29, 2018 - Jul 24, 2018
Date Accepted: Nov 1, 2018
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Internet Usage by Polish Patients With Multiple Sclerosis: A Multicenter Questionnaire Study
The internet is a source of knowledge and medium widely used in services that facilitate access to information and networking. Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients find the possibility to acquire information relating to their condition particularly rewarding.
We aimed to identify Polish MS patientsâ€™ preferences through analysis of a percentage of internet users and determine the most common search subjects and patientsâ€™ approach to information on the internet. Disability connected with the condition, its duration, and other factors that influence patientsâ€™ internet use were examined along with instances of relations established through the internet and their durability.
The study examined 1045 patients (731 women, 314 men) treated in 10 Polish MS centers, of whom 932 (89.19%) declared to be using internet; average age was 40.65 (SD 11.06), and average MS duration was 9.08 (SD 6.97) years. The study used a proprietary survey comprising questions regarding ways one seeks information and the range of searched subjects and internet usage frequency.
Majority of the patients (494/932, 53.0%) used the internet 6-7 times per week and 4.3% (40/932) declared they spent minimum 2 hours per day. The most commonly searched subjects were world news (604/932, 72.9% of patients using the internet); 60.8% (504/932) searched for information on their condition, particularly for new treatment methods (562/932, 67.8%) and the course of illness (520/932, 62.7%). Oneâ€™s sex had no impact on the internet usage (female vs male, odds ratio [OR] 1.13, 95% CI 0.72-1.77), although the patientâ€™s age might, at varying degrees. We found several significant associations using a .05 significance level. The strongest related to a patient with higher education used the internet 9 times more often than one with primary education (OR 8.64, 95% CI 3.31-22.57), lasting relationships increased the internet usage chances 10-fold in comparison with widowers (OR 0.12, 95% CI 0.05-0.31), living in a city with a population over 100,000 increased the chance nearly 6-fold compared with the countryside (OR 5.59, 95% CI 2.72-11.48), the relapsing-remitting MS type saw a 2-fold increase compared with the primary progressive MS type (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.29-0.75), and those needing assistance were 2 times less likely to use the internet than patients who could move independently (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.31-0.89). More than half (489/932, 52.5%) of the patients did not consult the information found on the internet with their neurologists; 15.9% (148/932) believed the relationship established through the internet can be stable.
Majority of Polish patients use the internet as a crucial information source on their condition and innovative treatment methods. The internet can be helpful in establishing new relationships, which are usually short-lived. Polish patients do not frequently consult the information gathered on the internet with their doctors.
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