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Advice from a medical expert through the Internet on queries about AIDS and hepatitis: analysis of a pilot experiment.

Marco J, Barba R, Losa JE, de la Serna CM, Sainz M, Lantigua IF, de la Serna JL - PLoS Med. (2006)

Bottom Line: The highest numbers of questions were submitted just after the weekend (37% of questions were made on Mondays and Tuesdays).Risk factors for contracting HIV infection were the most frequent concern (69%), followed by the window period for detection (12.6%), laboratory results (5.9%), symptoms (4.7%), diagnosis (2.7%), and treatment (2.2%).Factors such as anonymity, free access, and immediate answers have been key factors in its success.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain. Javier.marco@elmundo.es

ABSTRACT

Background: Advice from a medical expert on concerns and queries expressed anonymously through the Internet by patients and later posted on the Web, offers a new type of patient-doctor relationship. The aim of the current study was to perform a descriptive analysis of questions about AIDS and hepatitis made to an infectious disease expert and sent through the Internet to a consumer-oriented Web site in the Spanish language.

Methods and findings: Questions were e-mailed and the questions and answers were posted anonymously in the "expert-advice" section of a Web site focused on AIDS and hepatitis. We performed a descriptive study and a temporal analysis of the questions received in the first 12 months after the launch of the site. A total of 899 questions were received from December 2003 to November 2004, with a marked linear growth pattern. Questions originated in Spain in 68% of cases and 32% came from Latin America (the Caribbean, Central America, and South America). Eighty percent of the senders were male. Most of the questions concerned HIV infection (79%) with many fewer on hepatitis (17%). The highest numbers of questions were submitted just after the weekend (37% of questions were made on Mondays and Tuesdays). Risk factors for contracting HIV infection were the most frequent concern (69%), followed by the window period for detection (12.6%), laboratory results (5.9%), symptoms (4.7%), diagnosis (2.7%), and treatment (2.2%).

Conclusions: Our results confirm a great demand for this type of "ask-the-expert" Internet service, at least for AIDS and hepatitis. Factors such as anonymity, free access, and immediate answers have been key factors in its success.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

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Mentions: The AIDS/hepatitis Web site is sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry (Roche Laboratories, Nutley, New Jersey). The company pays a fixed yearly amount to the newspaper for the presence of a publicity banner on the Web site. There is no other contractual obligation between the partners, and by written accord there is no interference with content nor is the Web site subject to any kind of control by the sponsor. The medical expert has no relationship with the sponsoring company. Access to the site is made through elmundosalud.com ( Figure 1), ( http://www.elmundo.es/elmundosalud), which is the home page of the more general health site host, and which includes specific pages about tobacco, cancer, and pain. There is an active link on most of the pages that connect to the AIDS and hepatitis pages ( Figure 2) ( http://www.elmundo.es/elmundosalud/hepatitissida/index.html). The hepatitis and AIDS pages are divided into sections on news, special information, chats, interactive graphics, and “expert advice” ( Figure 3) ( http://www.elmundo.es/elmundosalud/hepatitissida/dudasypreguntas.html). Figures 1– 3 show screen shots of these pages. Questions e-mailed by users are answered by an infectious disease expert with special interest in AIDS and viral hepatitis (JEL, PhD, MD). Queries were sent to him on a weekday daily basis (Monday through Friday) and the questions with their answers were posted anonymously (as soon as they were returned by the doctor) by Internet editors in the “expert-advice” section. For questions very similar to those already published, some standardized answers are e-mailed directly to the subject. The sender only receives an e-mailed answer if the question will not be posted anew on the Web. Published answers generally carry links to other interactive material, to related answers, or to recommended sites offering additional information. There is also a search engine to look for previous questions and their answers. Data identifying the sender is never disclosed. Editorial changes to the original text of the questions are minimal to preserve the layman's language as much as possible.


Advice from a medical expert through the Internet on queries about AIDS and hepatitis: analysis of a pilot experiment.

Marco J, Barba R, Losa JE, de la Serna CM, Sainz M, Lantigua IF, de la Serna JL - PLoS Med. (2006)

Homepage of 						elmundosalud.com
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC1483911&req=5

pmed-0030256-g001: Homepage of elmundosalud.com
Mentions: The AIDS/hepatitis Web site is sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry (Roche Laboratories, Nutley, New Jersey). The company pays a fixed yearly amount to the newspaper for the presence of a publicity banner on the Web site. There is no other contractual obligation between the partners, and by written accord there is no interference with content nor is the Web site subject to any kind of control by the sponsor. The medical expert has no relationship with the sponsoring company. Access to the site is made through elmundosalud.com ( Figure 1), ( http://www.elmundo.es/elmundosalud), which is the home page of the more general health site host, and which includes specific pages about tobacco, cancer, and pain. There is an active link on most of the pages that connect to the AIDS and hepatitis pages ( Figure 2) ( http://www.elmundo.es/elmundosalud/hepatitissida/index.html). The hepatitis and AIDS pages are divided into sections on news, special information, chats, interactive graphics, and “expert advice” ( Figure 3) ( http://www.elmundo.es/elmundosalud/hepatitissida/dudasypreguntas.html). Figures 1– 3 show screen shots of these pages. Questions e-mailed by users are answered by an infectious disease expert with special interest in AIDS and viral hepatitis (JEL, PhD, MD). Queries were sent to him on a weekday daily basis (Monday through Friday) and the questions with their answers were posted anonymously (as soon as they were returned by the doctor) by Internet editors in the “expert-advice” section. For questions very similar to those already published, some standardized answers are e-mailed directly to the subject. The sender only receives an e-mailed answer if the question will not be posted anew on the Web. Published answers generally carry links to other interactive material, to related answers, or to recommended sites offering additional information. There is also a search engine to look for previous questions and their answers. Data identifying the sender is never disclosed. Editorial changes to the original text of the questions are minimal to preserve the layman's language as much as possible.

Bottom Line: The highest numbers of questions were submitted just after the weekend (37% of questions were made on Mondays and Tuesdays).Risk factors for contracting HIV infection were the most frequent concern (69%), followed by the window period for detection (12.6%), laboratory results (5.9%), symptoms (4.7%), diagnosis (2.7%), and treatment (2.2%).Factors such as anonymity, free access, and immediate answers have been key factors in its success.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain. Javier.marco@elmundo.es

ABSTRACT

Background: Advice from a medical expert on concerns and queries expressed anonymously through the Internet by patients and later posted on the Web, offers a new type of patient-doctor relationship. The aim of the current study was to perform a descriptive analysis of questions about AIDS and hepatitis made to an infectious disease expert and sent through the Internet to a consumer-oriented Web site in the Spanish language.

Methods and findings: Questions were e-mailed and the questions and answers were posted anonymously in the "expert-advice" section of a Web site focused on AIDS and hepatitis. We performed a descriptive study and a temporal analysis of the questions received in the first 12 months after the launch of the site. A total of 899 questions were received from December 2003 to November 2004, with a marked linear growth pattern. Questions originated in Spain in 68% of cases and 32% came from Latin America (the Caribbean, Central America, and South America). Eighty percent of the senders were male. Most of the questions concerned HIV infection (79%) with many fewer on hepatitis (17%). The highest numbers of questions were submitted just after the weekend (37% of questions were made on Mondays and Tuesdays). Risk factors for contracting HIV infection were the most frequent concern (69%), followed by the window period for detection (12.6%), laboratory results (5.9%), symptoms (4.7%), diagnosis (2.7%), and treatment (2.2%).

Conclusions: Our results confirm a great demand for this type of "ask-the-expert" Internet service, at least for AIDS and hepatitis. Factors such as anonymity, free access, and immediate answers have been key factors in its success.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus