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Press Release: EFIC 2013: Chronic pain patients make extensive use of the Internet, but quality of websites only ‘moderate’

Written by | 1 Nov 2013 | All Medical News

A large majority of chronic pain patients makes extensive use of the Internet to search for information about their condition, and many go back to their physician to discuss what they have found out, according to a Swiss study presented at the Congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC in Florence. Current research from Italy shows that the overall quality of pain-related websites is moderate.
“Most chronic pain patients make extensive use of the Internet for health information, but few are actively involved in social media or forums,” Dr Christine Cedraschi, President of the Swiss Association for the Study of Pain, said at the Congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC in Florence. “Many pain sufferers use the information found online to refine their questions and get back to their physicians”, said Dr Cedraschi, summarising a recent study conducted by her team at the Geneva University Hospitals.

A total of 55 pain patients participated in the survey, two-thirds of them suffering from musculoskeletal pain, about a quarter from neuropathic pain. Nearly all chronic pain patients had a computer, 69% using the Internet more than once a day. While low participation in social media and networks was reported by the respondents, all of the Internet users searched for health-related information. “Among the top pain-related queries were neuropathic, low back, and musculoskeletal pain as well as opioids, antidepressants, and antiepileptics”, Dr Cedraschi said. “A third of the respondents reported online information had a positive influence, mainly because they felt that it encouraged them to ask questions of their physician.” While a majority of 57% felt satisfied by their health searches, half of the respondents also stressed the need for quality evaluation of websites.

Quality of pain websites “moderate”, Italian study finds

The overall quality of websites dealing with pain issues is moderate, with some shortcomings, according to an Italian study which was also presented at the EFIC Congress. The researchers from Rome searched websites dealing with pain in general as well chronic pain, back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. “The quality assessment of the websites was made using eight evaluation criteria of the Dragulanescu score”, said one of the study’s authors, Dr Arianna Camilloni, from Rome’s Sapienza University. These include accuracy, authority, coverage, up-to-datedness, density, interactivity, objectivity, and promptness. About 40% of the websites scored well, said Dr Camilloni, for their coverage of pain conditions, treatments, and interactive options. “But often, the websites dealing with pain do not offer good-quality, readable information for patients. ”

Sources: EFIC Abstract Piguet et al, Health information on the Internet: What do chronic pain patients look for?, EFIC Abstract Camilloni et al, Italian chronic pain websites: assessment of quality of information using the Dragulanescu instrument


EFIC Press Office:
Dr Birgit Kofler
Ph. after the Congress: +43-1-319 43 78-13;

E-mail: kofler@bkkommunikation.com

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