Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Date Information

May 2016

Department

School of Nursing

First Advisor

Hannah Fraley

Abstract

As technology use increases, self-diagnosis using a symptom checker on the World Wide Web has become a topic of discussion in the health field. Given that many in the United States continue without access to medical care, it is becoming common practice for patients to self-diagnose using information sought on the internet. Health literacy of internet health information is a concern, especially among vulnerable populations, such as immigrants and those without access to health insurance.

The aim of this study is to understand the phenomenon of self-diagnosis using the internet as a source of health information among a convenience sample of Salem State University students (N= 150). A survey instrument was used to examine the following: perception of accurate health information sought throughout the internet; follow-up with primary physicians, how much trust is placed in internet self-diagnosis, and how often participants use the internet to self-diagnose. Data was analyzed using thematic coding methods.

The internet provides us with access to information, yet among those seeking health-related information, there is a concern that critical health information can either be misinterpreted, unreliable or both. Self-diagnosis using the internet is a particular concern if patients are using the internet in the place of a physician. Results from this study can inform healthcare professionals about college faculty, staff and student perceptions regarding use of the internet to self-diagnose prior to seeing a primary physician, as well as inform future study of this phenomenon.

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