• Alzheimer's disease;
  • behaviour;
  • cybermedicine;
  • dementia;
  • eHealth;
  • Internet;
  • NHS Direct;
  • telemedicine



Internet websites and medical telephone helplines are relatively new and huge resources of medical information (‘cybermedicine’ and ‘telemedicine’, respectively) accessible to the general public without prior recourse to a doctor.

Study Objectives

To measure use of internet websites and of the NHS Direct telephone helpline as sources of medical information by patients and their families and/or carers attending a cognitive function clinic.

Design and Setting

Consecutive patients seen by one consultant neurologist over a six-month period in the Cognitive Function Clinic at the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, a regional neuroscience centre in Liverpool, UK.


More than 50% of patients and families/carers had internet access; 27% had accessed relevant information, but none volunteered this. 82% expressed interest in, or willingness to access, websites with relevant medical information if these were suggested by the clinic doctor. Although 61% had heard of the NHS Direct telephone helpline, only 10% of all patients had used this service and few calls related to the reason for attendance at the Cognitive Function Clinic.


Internet access and use is common in a cognitive function clinic population. Since information from internet websites may shape health beliefs and expectations of patients and families/carers, appropriately or inappropriately, it may be important for the clinic doctor to inquire about these searches. Since most would use websites suggested by the doctor, a readiness to provide addresses for appropriate sites may prove helpful. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.