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Keywords:

  • child;
  • health information;
  • Internet;
  • parent

Aim:  Studies have shown increasing Internet use for health information. We aimed to broadly examine parents' utilisation of information sources for their children's health, their trust in them and to define the role of the Internet for children's health information

Methods:  Interview of a convenience sample of parents of patients presenting to a tertiary paediatric emergency department (ED) (Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia) in 2006/2007.

Results:  A total of 360 parents completed the interview. Parents had used on average five sources of health information for their children in the previous 6 months. In the previous 6 months and immediately prior to the ED visit, general practitioners were consulted for health information by 87% and 39%, chemists by 44% and 2%, the Internet by 43% and 6% and telephone advice health lines by 30% and 10%, respectively. Of these sources, parents ‘greatly trusted’ Royal Children's Hospital ED doctors and nurses 82% (n = 112) their regular general practitioners in 73% (n = 303), chemists in 45% (n = 160), telephone advice health lines (Nurse-On-Call) in 42% (n = 90) and the Internet in general in 10% (n = 112). Overall, 52% had sought health information for their children on the Internet. Only 20% knew and 11% had ever used the regional children's hospital web site (http://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo), but 97% of the Internet users reported they would trust this information.

Conclusion:  While using numerous different sources, parents in this study mostly use and trust traditional sources of health information. Scores of respondents use the Internet to seek health information for their children and would value easier access to Internet sources that they trust.