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Dietitians and the internet: are dietitians embracing the new technology?

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Internet use is increasing and in the future it will become a valuable tool for health professionals seeking and communicating health, diet and nutritional information. This study aimed to explore the use of the Internet by dietitians in the UK. Methods

A cross-sectional study was carried out on a random sample of 200 dietitians selected from the British Dietetic Association database. A self-completion questionnaire was distributed to determine access to the Internet and the views of dietitians on the use of the Internet for the provision of health and nutrition information. Results

Of the 156 respondents to the questionnaire, 96% were female and 4% were male. The results revealed that 66% of respondents had access to the Internet at work, with 39% using the Internet once a week or more. The main reported uses of the Internet were searching for health information, research and communication. Thirteen per cent of respondents reported seeing information obtained from the Internet by patients. Concerns about the use of the Internet for the provision of health information centred on creating unrealistic patient expectations. Conclusion

The research revealed that the Internet does have a role in augmenting current services. A substantial proportion of the dietitians studied were already using the Internet routinely in their work, with the real potential for its use beginning to be realized.
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Keywords: Internet; computers; electronic mail; healthcare delivery; patient expectations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Nutrition Epidemiology Group, Nuffield Institute for Health, The University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Publication date: 2001-12-01

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