Internet advice in dermatology and allergy: 1 Year analysis of telerequests and answers

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to analyze the content and objectives of questions asked by internet users who accessed the homepage of the Department of Dermatology and Allergy Biederstein at the Technical University of Munich. Users were offered the opportunity to ask free questions on the Web site. The results of lay and medical individuals seeking advice were collected over a 12 month period and the answers given were reviewed. We received inquiries from 279 laypersons and 31 physicians. The majority of questions (53.8%) asked by non-medical users dealt with dermatology-related problems. Inquiries related to hair (13.3%) and acne or rosacea (11.3%) were most common. 46.2% of e-mail requests were allergy-related. Most of the interest focused on food allergy and adverse food reactions (22.5%) or hay fever and perennial rhinoconjunctivitis (19.4%). Previous consultation of a physician was reported in 40.9%. 13.6% had consulted an allergist or dermatologist. The majority of questions asked by physicians concerned allergy-related topics (64.6%). Most questions were answered by a short letter giving advice and encouraging the non-medical user to visit a dermatologist and/or allergist (72.4%). In 27.6% we felt that the inquiries were answered completely. Our website offer to answer dermatology-related and allergy-related questions for free was well accepted and shows that many patients seek additional, reliable information regarding their diseases. The purpose of such an offer is not to replace the traditional physician-patient contact, but to assist non-medical users to better understand their health problems and to guide them to seek additional medical help when required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3d
JournalDermatology Online Journal
Volume7
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

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