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chose to complete elsewhere and return
by mail was 44.1% (26/59).
A further 12 were received from
respondents recruited from the Medical
Research Centre database. Of the
50 patients randomly selected from this
database, 9 were excluded as their contact
details were no longer valid. Twenty
patients agreed to participate and 12 of
them returned the survey; the remaining
21 participants comprised 13 who could
not be further contacted by phone, four
were not eligible and four declined to
take part. The overall response rate for the
Research Centre was 29.3% (12/41).
Most of respondents were in the age
group of 26 to 35, their median age
76. The majority were female (59.2%),
single (40.8%), had a bachelor degree
(29.6%) and were employed (69.0%).
Most of the respondents (70.4%)
self-reported their asthma severity as
mild to moderate. The majority were
diagnosed with asthma more than
10 years ago (80.3%), and were using two
asthma medications (53.5%).
The majority of respondents were in the
26 to 35 age group, female, single, had
a bachelor degree and were employed.
Most of the respondents self-reported
their asthma severity as mild to moderate.
The majority were diagnosed with asthma
more than 10 years ago, and were using two
Of the 71 respondents, 65 (91.5%) had
internet access. Of these, home-based
access to the internet was available
to 93.8% of them, while 80% used the
internet several times a day and 60% had
used the internet for more than 10 years.
Further, 88% (N=57) of respondents
searched the internet for information
about health and illness. It was found
that younger age, tertiary education and
current employment were associated with
having internet access (Table 1).
Among those who had internet
access, only 35.4% (N=23) searched
for asthma-specific information on the
internet. Interestingly, respondents who
perceived their asthma as 'very mild'
were less likely to search the internet for
information about asthma compared
to the remainder of the respondents
The reasons respondents gave for using
the internet for information about asthma
were varied (Table 2). The most common
reason was to know or learn more about
asthma, while the least common response
was preparing for a visit to the doctor.
Most respondents (91.3%) used search
engines to search for asthma information.
When asked about the websites visited
most recently, most of the respondents
(69.6 %) did not recall any specific websites.
Respondents' general perceptions of asthma
information accessed on the internet
were positive (Table 3). A large proportion
(83%) indicated overall agreement that the
information on the internet was of good
quality, and most (91%) found that the
information was easy to understand. A smaller,
but still significant, proportion (70%) agreed
that information about asthma on the internet
was credible and reliable. Approximately
70% agreed that the amount of asthma
information on the internet was not too
More than 80% of respondents found the
information on the internet to be useful.
Similarly, 78% found that they understood
more about asthma after using the internet,
and 66.6% understood more about the
treatments. However, the trend reverses
when asked about the usefulness of
internet-based information for making
decisions or self-managing their asthma,
with over 60% indicating disagreement
regarding these questions.
Further, most respondents reported it
was 'very easy' or 'somewhat easy' to find
the desired information; none of the
respondents thought it was very hard or
extremely hard. When asked an open-ended
question about the reasons for their
rating, respondents' comments included
availability of an abundance of information
on the internet, and that they could locate
the desired information 'quickly' and with
the use of search engines (Google was
mentioned most frequently). Additionally,
respondents commented on the
availability of credible websites by asthma
organisations, as well as forums where large
amounts of resources can be sought.
This group of respondents was also asked
an open-ended question about what
information they sought when online.
Forty-one meaningful phrases or sentences
were coded and five themes were identified:
Medication/treatment, management, nature
and characteristics of asthma, research, and
certain specific information (Table 4).
Of the respondents who had access to the
internet, 64.6% (N=42) had not searched
for asthma information on the internet.
The most common reasons (57.1%) given for
this were that a healthcare professional's
advice was preferred, and lack of interest
in searching the internet for asthma
Table 5 shows respondents' willingness
to use the internet to manage asthma.
Table 4. Types of asthma-speci c information searched on the Internet (n=23)
Missing data = 8.7%
52.2 News about asthma treatments
Side effects of Seretide
How asthma meds work
34.8 How to manage it
Prevention -- ways to monitor asthma
Peak flow (how to work & use it)
Trying to compare my FEV1 with normal values
34.8 General information
What the causes are
What the relationship between asthma and hay fever
Symptoms and causes
Latest research 4.3 Scientific information and studies
8.7 FEV1 requirements eg. minimum reading to pass aviation medical
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