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      Association of Online Health Information–Seeking Behavior and Self-Care Activities Among Type 2 Diabetic Patients in Saudi Arabia


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          Health information obtained from the Internet has an impact on patient health care outcomes. There is a growing concern over the quality of online health information sources used by diabetic patients because little is known about their health information–seeking behavior and the impact this behavior has on their diabetes-related self-care, in particular in the Middle East setting.


          The aim of this study was to determine the online health-related information–seeking behavior among adult type 2 diabetic patients in the Middle East and the impact of their online health-related information–seeking behavior on their self-care activities.


          A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 344 patients with type 2 diabetes attending inpatient and outpatient primary health care clinics at 2 teaching hospitals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The main outcome measures included the ability of patients to access the Internet, their ability to use the Internet to search for health-related information, and their responses to Internet searches in relation to their self-care activities. Further analysis of differences based on age, gender, sociodemographic, and diabetes-related self-care activities among online health-related information seekers and nononline health-related information seekers was conducted.


          Among the 344 patients, 74.1% (255/344) were male with a mean age of 53.5 (SD 13.8) years. Only 39.0% (134/344) were Internet users; 71.6% (96/134) of them used the Internet for seeking health-related information. Most participants reported that their primary source of health-related information was their physician (216/344, 62.8%) followed by television (155/344, 45.1%), family (113/344, 32.8%), newspapers (100/344, 29.1%), and the Internet (96/344, 27.9%). Primary topics participants searched for were therapeutic diet for diabetes (55/96, 57%) and symptoms of diabetes (52/96, 54%) followed by diabetes treatment (50/96, 52%). Long history of diabetes, familial history of the disease, unemployment, and not seeking diabetes education were the most common barriers for online health-related information–seeking behavior. Younger age, female, marital status, higher education, higher income, and longer duration of Internet usage were associated with more online health-related information–seeking behaviors. Most (89/96, 93%) online health-related information seekers reported positive change in their behaviors after seeking online health information. Overall odds ratio (OR 1.56, 95% CI 0.63-3.28) for all self-care responses demonstrated that there was no statistically significant difference between those seeking health-related information online and non–health-related information seekers. However, health-related information seekers were better in testing their blood glucose regularly, taking proper action for hyperglycemia, and adopting nonpharmacological management.


          Physicians and television are still the primary sources of health-related information for adult diabetic patients in Saudi Arabia whether they seek health-related information online or not. This study demonstrates that participants seeking online health-related information are more conscious about their diabetes self-care compared to non–health-related information seekers in some aspects more than the others.

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          Patients' use of the Internet for medical information.

          To determine the percentage of patients enrolled in a primary care practice who use the Internet for health information, to describe the types of information sought, to evaluate patients' perceptions of the quality of this information, and to determine if patients who use the Internet for health information discuss this with their doctors. Self-administered mailed survey. Patients from a primary care internal medicine private practice. Randomly selected patients ( N=1,000) were mailed a confidential survey between December 1999 and March 2000. The response rate was 56.2%. Of the 512 patients who returned the survey, 53.5% (274) stated that they used the Internet for medical information. Those using the Internet for medical information were more educated ( P <.001) and had higher incomes ( P <.001). Respondents used the Internet for information on a broad range of medical topics. Sixty percent felt that the information on the Internet was the "same as" or "better than" information from their doctors. Of those using the Internet for health information, 59% did not discuss this information with their doctor. Neither gender, education level, nor age less than 60 years was associated with patients sharing their Web searches with their physicians. However, patients who discussed this information with their doctors rated the quality of information higher than those who did not share this information with their providers. Primary care providers should recognize that patients are using the World Wide Web as a source of medical and health information and should be prepared to offer suggestions for Web-based health resources and to assist patients in evaluating the quality of medical information available on the Internet.
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            Diabetes mellitus in Saudi Arabia.

            Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a major public health problem worldwide, and it is a known risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD). New recommendations for the diagnosis of diabetes have changed the epidemiology of DM. Therefore, we designed this study with the objective to determine the prevalence of DM among Saudis of both sexes, between the ages of 30-70-years in rural as well as urban communities. This work is part of a major national project: Coronary Artery Disease in Saudis study (CADISS) that is designed to look at CAD and its risk factors in Saudi population. This study is a community-based national epidemiological health survey, conducted by examining Saudi subjects in the age group of 30-70-years of selected households over a 5-year period between 1995 and 2000. Data were obtained from history, fasting plasma glucose levels, and body mass index. The data were analyzed to classify individuals as diabetic, impaired fasting glucose and normal, using 1997 American Diabetes Association (ADA) criteria, which was adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998, to provide prevalence of DM in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). A total of 17232 Saudi subjects were selected in the study, and 16917 participated (98.2% response rate). Four thousand and four subjects (23.7%), out of 16917 were diagnosed to have DM. Thus, the overall prevalence of DM obtained from this study is 23.7% in KSA. The prevalence in males and females were 26.2% and 21.5% (p<0.00001). The calculated age-adjusted prevalence for Saudi population for the year 2000 is 21.9%. Diabetes mellitus was more prevalent among Saudis living in urban areas of 25.5% compared to rural Saudis of 19.5% (p<0.00001). Despite the readily available access to healthcare facilities in KSA, a large number of diabetics 1116 (27.9%) were unaware of having DM. The overall prevalence of DM in adults in KSA is 23.7%. A national prevention program at community level targeting high risk groups should be implemented sooner to prevent DM. We further recommend a longitudinal study to demonstrate the importance of modifying risk factors for the development of DM and reducing its prevalence in KSA.
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              World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects.


                Author and article information

                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications Inc. (Toronto, Canada )
                August 2015
                12 August 2015
                : 17
                : 8
                : e196
                [1] 1College of Medicine Medical Informatics and E-Learning Unit, Medical Education Department King Saud University RiyadhSaudi Arabia
                [2] 2College of Medicine Family and Community Medicine Department King Saud University RiyadhSaudi Arabia
                [3] 3KSU Chair for Medical Education Research and Development King Saud University RiyadhSaudi Arabia
                [4] 4College of Medicine King Saud University RiyadhSaudi Arabia
                [5] 5College of Public Health and Health Informatics King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs (MNGHA) RiyadhSaudi Arabia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Amr Jamal amrjamal@ 123456ksu.edu.sa
                ©Amr Jamal, Samina A Khan, Ahmed AlHumud, Abdulaziz Al-Duhyyim, Mohammed Alrashed, Faisal Bin Shabr, Alwalid Alteraif, Abdullah Almuziri, Mowafa Househ, Riaz Qureshi. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 12.08.2015.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 4 February 2015
                : 25 February 2015
                : 1 June 2015
                : 11 July 2015
                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                internet,diabetes mellitus, type 2,self-care,consumer health information,telemedicine,medical informatics,health education,google,ehealth,e-patients,health behavior,middle east,saudi arabia


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