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The influence of online health information on health decisions: a systematic review


Thapa, DK and Visentin, DC and Kornhaber, R and West, S and Cleary, M, The influence of online health information on health decisions: a systematic review, Patient Education and Counseling, 104, (4) pp. 770-784. ISSN 0738-3991 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.pec.2020.11.016




This systematic review assessed the influence of online health information (OHI) search behaviour on health and medical decisions.


Eligible studies were identified by searching electronic databases PubMed, Scopus, and CINAHL in February 2020 for studies reporting OHI search behaviour and its influence on health decisions. Information was extracted pertaining to either consumers’ (self-reported) perceptions of the influence of OHI on decision-making or the association between online search behaviour and health decision-making.


A total of 3995 articles were screened, with 48 included in the final analysis. The reviewed studies indicated that OHI assisted in making subsequent health related decisions such as asking questions during a consultation, increased professional visits, improved adherence to the advice of a physician, being more compliant with taking medication, and improved self-care.


Consumers largely used OHI to support information provided by their physicians. The strength of the patient-provider relationship was considered important in moderating the potential negative outcomes of OHI.

Practice implications

Health care systems have a unique opportunity to direct OHI search behaviours towards empowering consumers to engage as an informed, active and joint decision-maker in their own health care.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:consumers, decisions, health care, online health information, systematic review
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Digital health
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Health status (incl. wellbeing)
UTAS Author:Thapa, DK (Mr Deependra Thapa)
UTAS Author:Visentin, DC (Dr Denis Visentin)
UTAS Author:Kornhaber, R (Dr Rachel Kornhaber)
UTAS Author:West, S (Dr Sancia West)
UTAS Author:Cleary, M (Professor Michelle Cleary)
ID Code:142248
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Nursing
Deposited On:2020-12-31
Last Modified:2021-04-28

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