Determining health information–seeking behavior of shoulder patients

Andrew S. Miller, Phillip Stetler, Sribava Sharma, Abdulaziz F. Ahmed, Sabrina G. Jenkins, Saisanjana Vattigunta, Eric Huish, Uma Srikumaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patients today have access to an increasing number of health resources to guide medical decision making, including specialist health care providers, the Internet, friends, and family members. No prior studies, to our knowledge, have comprehensively explored health information–seeking behavior (HISB) for patients being managed for shoulder pain. Objective: Our primary objective is to identify which health resources patients use and find helpful in a cohort of patients being either evaluated or managed for shoulder pain. With increased access to the Internet and its use, we also hope to quantify the extent of use of Internet resources and identify predictors of patient use. Methods: We interviewed a cohort of new and follow-up patients being surgically or nonoperatively managed for shoulder pain by a single fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon. All patients were administered a questionnaire to determine HISB, which evaluated the types of resources used and those deemed most helpful in guiding medical decision making. For patients using the Internet, specific websites were documented. Additional variables that were collected included age, gender, ethnicity, and highest education attained. Multivariable logistic regression was used to evaluate predictors of Internet use. Results: This study included 242 patients. A discussion with an orthopedic surgeon was reported to be the most informative for nonoperatively treated patients, first postoperative patients, and operative follow-up patients. Patients at the first postoperative visit reported YouTube as their preferred resource almost 4 times more than new patients (odds ratio [OR] 3.9, P =.015). Search engine use was significantly higher in patients at the first postoperative visit (OR 5.8, P =.004) and patients at subsequent surgical follow-up (OR 8.3, P =.001) compared with new patients. Having an undergraduate (OR 0.1, P =.037) or graduate degree (OR 0.03, P =.01) had a significant inverse association with difficulty of using Internet resources. Patients of Black race reported significantly higher rates of distrust for Internet resources than those of White race (OR 5.8, P <.001). Conclusion: This study highlights the patterns of HISB among patients with shoulder conditions. A face-to-face discussion with a physician or a shoulder surgeon was the most crucial resource for information compared to other resources. This study has also defined the preferred Internet resources for patients at different time points of care and the reasons for refraining from seeking health information on the Internet. Such findings can aid shoulder surgeons in understanding the optimal methods for delivering health information for different patient demographics and different phases of their care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S57-S62
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • HISB
  • Health information–seeking behavior
  • Patients
  • Survey Study
  • health resource
  • shoulder
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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