The objective of this study is to explore the experiences and attitudes of rheumatologists and oncologists with regard to their patients’ health-related Internet use. In addition, we explored how often physicians referred their patients to health-related Internet sites. We sent a questionnaire to all the rheumatologists and oncologists in the Netherlands. The questionnaire included questions concerning demographics, experiences with patients’ health-related Internet use, referral behavior, and attitudes to the consequences of patients’ health-related Internet use (for patients themselves, the physician-patient relationship and the health care). The response rate was 46% (N = 238). Of these respondents, 134 practiced as a rheumatologist and 104 as an oncologist. Almost all physicians encountered their patients raising information from the Internet during a consultation. They were not, however, confronted with their patients’ health-related Internet use on a daily basis. Physicians had a moderately positive attitude towards the consequences of patients’ health-related Internet use, the physician-patient relationship and the health care. Oncologists were significantly less positive than rheumatologists about the consequences of health-related Internet use. Most of the physicians had never (32%) or only sometimes (42%) referred a patient to a health-related Internet site. Most physicians (53%) found it difficult to stay up-to-date with reliable Internet sites for patients. Physicians are moderately positive about their patients’ health-related Internet use but only seldom refer them to relevant sites. Offering an up-to-date site with accredited websites for patients might help physicians refer their patients.
- Online health information