Objectives To explore the perceived frequency and impact of patients bringing health information from the Internet to primary care consultations.
Method A questionnaire was sent to all general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses (nurses) in a primary care trust in the North-west of England.
Results The response was 52.3%, more nurses responding than GPs (61.2% vs 46.8%). A substantial majority (93.9% and 78.0%) had experienced patients bringing such information in the last 6 months, which often lengthened the consultations. Significantly more nurses than GPs felt that the information helped the consultation (87.1% vs 37.7%), but also reported that patients bringing such information was off-putting (21.9% vs 6.3%).
Conclusions Both GPs and nurses experienced patients bringing health information to consultations and significantly differed in their views about whether it helped or hindered. Primary care staff should anticipate patients' use of the Internet for health information and should actively manage patients introducing it into the consultation.