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.