Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Internet Use and Perceptions of Information Reliability by Parents in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


OBJECTIVES: To assess Internet use and perceptions of formation reliability by parents in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

STUDY DESIGN: A standardized questionnaire study.

RESULTS: A total of 100 parents were approached and 90% participated. In all, 79% owned a computer, 85.5% had Internet access, and 75.5% regularly spent >1 to 2 hour/day on the computer. There was a significant reduction in the proportion of parents using the Internet after birth of their baby (before birth: nonmedical searches 84% and medical searches 47%; after birth: nonmedical searches 40% and medical searches 29%; p<0.0001 and <0.03, respectively). Internet access was more likely in those with higher level of education (p=0.006) and fluency in reading English (p=0.05). In all, 80% considered the NICU doctors as a reliable source of medical information compared with 10% in the case of the Internet.

CONCLUSIONS:Although a considerable proportion of parents use the Internet for medical information, many still view the information obtained as unreliable.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4


  1. Impicciatore P, Pandolfini C, Casella N, Bonati M . Reliability of health information for the public on the World Wide Web: a systematic survey of advice on managing fever in children at home. BMJ 1997;314:1875–1879 (see comments).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Mandl KD, Kohane IS, Brandt AM . Electronic patient–physician com-munication: problems and promise. Ann Intern Med 1998;129:495–500.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Mandl KD, Feit S, Pena BMG, Kohane IS . Growth and determinants of access in patient e-mail and internet use. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2000;154:508–511.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Glowniak JV . Medical resources on the internet. Ann Intern Med 1995;123:123–131.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Kassirer JR . Journals in bits and bytes. Electronic medical journals. N Engl J Med 1992; 326:195–197 (Editorial).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Ferguson T . Health Online. How to Find Health Information, Support Groups, and Self-help Communities in Cyberspace. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley; 1996.

  7. Widman LE, Tong DA . Requests for medical advice from patients and families to health care providers who publish on the world wide web. Arch Intern Med 1997;157:209–212.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Eysenbach G, Diepgen TL . Responses to unsolicited patient e-mail requests for medical advice on the World Wide Web. JAMA 1998;280:1333–1335.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Kunst H, Groot D, Latthe PM, Latthe M, Khan KS . Accuracy of information on apparently credible websites: survey of five common health topics. BMJ 2002; 324:581–582.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. The Pew Internet and American Life Project. The online health care revolution: how the web helps Americans take better care of themselves. [].

  11. Lowe HJ, Lomax EC, Polansky SE . The world wide web: a review of an emerging internet-based technology for the distribution of biomedical information. J Am Med Inform Assoc 1996;3:1–14.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Spooner AS . The pediatric internet. Pediatrics 1996;98:1185–1192.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Kahn MG . The desktop database dilemma. Acad Med 1993;68:34–37.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Hoffman DL, Novak TP . Bridging the racial divide on the internet. Science 1998;280:390–391.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. The American Academy of Pediatrics. The pediatric Internet: reviews of Internet resources by AAP fellows.

Download references


We thank Kuljit Bains and Ada Pang, Research Nurses involved in this project, for their assistance in recruiting parents and conducting interviews.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dhillon, A., Albersheim, S., Alsaad, S. et al. Internet Use and Perceptions of Information Reliability by Parents in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. J Perinatol 23, 420–424 (2003).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links