02 April 2018
Information on self-management, including addressing people’s fears and concerns, are core aspects of managing patients with low back pain (LBP). Web apps with patient information may be used to extend patient-physician consultations and encourage self-management outside of the consultation room. It is, however, important to identify the end users’ needs and preferences in order to maximize acceptance.
The aim of this study was to identify preferences for the content, design, and functionality of a Web app with evidence-based information and advice for people with LBP in Denmark.
This is a phenomenological qualitative study. Adults who had consulted their general practitioner because of LBP within the past 14 days were included. Each participated in a semistructured interview, which was audiotaped and transcribed for text condensation. Interviews were conducted at the participant’s home by 2 interviewers. Participants also completed a questionnaire that requested information on age, gender, internet usage, interest in searching new knowledge, LBP-related function, and pain.
Fifteen 45-min interviews were conducted. Participants had a median age of 40 years (range 22-68 years) and reported a median disability of 7 points (range 0-18) using the 23-item Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire. Participants reported that Web-based information should be easy to find and read, easily overviewed, and not be overloaded with information. Subjects found existing Web-based information confusing, often difficult to comprehend, and not relevant for them, and they questioned the motives driving most hosting companies or organizations. The Patient Handbook, a Danish government-funded website that provides information to Danes about health, was mentioned as a trustworthy and preferred site when searching for information and advice regarding LBP.
This study identified important issues to consider when developing and supplementing existing general practice treatment with Web-based information and advice for patients with LBP. Development of a Web app should consider patient input, and developers should carefully address the following domains: readability, customization, design, credibility, and usability.