Objective: The internet has been touted as a cost-effective method of providing valuable patient education and support resources. However, little is known of the level of internet interest in or access to web-based resources of most chronically ill populations generally, and pediatric populations in particular. Web-based patient resources could be especially applicable to the pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) population given the potential appeal of an anonymous forum for this group.
Methods: Tertiary-care clinic patients aged 8–18 years and diagnosed with IBD were surveyed by mail. χ2 and/or analysis of variance were used to compare demographic data from nonresponders and responders and for subgroup analyses.
Results: Of 162 eligible patients, 63 (38.9%) completed the survey. Responders did not differ significantly from nonresponders by age, sex, or distribution of disease. Overall, 98.4% of those surveyed had internet access, with 61.9% having access at school. Ninety-five percent had used the internet, while 91% expressed interest in visiting a pediatric IBD website for general IBD information (83%), for support (73%), to pose questions (78%) or read (73%) or respond (60%) to questions, or to chat with others (46%). Despite expressed interest, far fewer had ever used the internet as an IBD information (52.4%) or support (9.5%) resource. Similarly, although 15.8% anticipated visiting a pediatric IBD site weekly, only 1.5% had done so in the week of the survey.
Conclusions: Reported levels of interest in web-based patient resources are high among pediatric IBD patients, yet use may be infrequent.
*Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, and †McMaster Children's Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Received October 30, 2001; accepted May 23, 2002.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Robert Issenman, McMaster Children's Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences Centre, 1200 Main St. West, Room 3F31, Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5, Canada (e-mail: email@example.com).