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Actas Urológicas Españolas

Print version ISSN 0210-4806


SANTOS ARRONTES, D. et al. Internet use in patients attending a hospital urology clinic. Actas Urol Esp [online]. 2007, vol.31, n.10, pp.1161-1165. ISSN 0210-4806.

Hypothesis: The increase in the awareness of computers in the general population and the spread of Internet as a tool for communication and knowledge, allows patients to have greater understanding of their conditions. Objective: To evaluate the use of Internet by the population from a health area and the knowledge extracted about their urological conditions. Material and Methods: This prospective study included all patients of age who attended a hospital urology clinic between 1st September and 31st December 2006, in a health area of 200,000 inhabitants. All patients were given a self-administered questionnaire to complete; medical staff did not intervene in filling it out in any case. The study variables were age (under 30, between 30 and 60 and over 60), sex, patient’s pathology (only those with at least 5 cases were assessed), educational level (none, primary school qualification, intermediate studies and university studies), presence of a computer at home (yes/no), knowledge of the existence of internet (yes/no), searches performed on urological conditions and influence of these consultations in their relationship with their doctor. The relationship between the use of internet and the different variables was evaluated using the Kruskall-Wallis test. A probability of the null hypothesis less than 0.05 was considered significant. Results: A total of 1,111 questionnaires were received, of which 1,062 were useful for processing. The mean age was 60.98 with a standard error of 15.08. 18.4 % were women. The population distribution by level of studies was: 22.2 % uneducated, 43.5 % with primary education qualification, 27.5 % with intermediate educational level and 6.8 % university graduates. 58.4 % of patients denied having a computer at home, 37.7 % do not know what internet is, 76.7 % do not have an e-mail address and just 6.7 % visit medical pages, although only 1.5 % admit having asked their doctor about information received on internet. According to classification by age, patients under 30 have significantly greater knowledge of computers and internet (p<0.001). However, there were no significant differences shown between the age and the fact of asking about information received through internet (p=0.1). The most visited web pages were, in order of the most to least visited:,,,,, and The most searched for conditions were: chronic prostatitis (25 % of patients affected), testicular cancer (20 % of patients), varicocele (18.7 %), Peyronie’s disease or congenital penile curvature (18.1 %) and stenosis of the pyeloureteral junction (16.6 %). Conclusions: - The exploitation of the internet as an information tool on the part of patients is very low, due to the characteristics inherent to our population, such as the low level of studies. - Urological web pages should dedicate an extensive part to the most common conditions in the younger population groups, such as varicocele or prostatitis. However, it is logical to expect that these epidemiological patterns will modify with time. - The use of internet and computers in general should be promoted among the different population groups in the health area under study.

Keywords : Internet; Questionnaire; Epidemiology.

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