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International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 297416, 3 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/297416
Research Article

Health Information Accessed on the Internet: The Development in 5 European Countries

1Northern Research Institute, Tromsø, Norway
2Telemedicine Research Group, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway
3Division of Addiction and Specialized Psychiatry, University Hospital of North Norway, N-9291 Tromsø, Norway

Received 3 September 2012; Revised 12 November 2012; Accepted 14 November 2012

Academic Editor: Velio Macellari

Copyright © 2012 Per Egil Kummervold and Rolf Wynn. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to summarize and analyse findings from four prior studies on the use of the Internet as a source of health information in five European countries (Norway, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Portugal). A cross-study comparison of data was performed. All the studies included fit with a trend of a sharp and continuous growth in the use of the Internet for health information access in the major part of the last decade. Importantly, the Internet has become an important mass media source of health information in northern Europe. While the use of the Internet for health information is somewhat less common in the south European countries, its use is also clearly increasing there. We discuss the advantages of cross-study comparisons of data and methodological challenges. As the use of the Internet for health information is likely to peak in some countries in the near future, new population surveys on health information access should focus more on the details of information that is accessed and which sites that are most used and trusted.