The internet will transform relations between patients and health professions, Southampton University research reveals.
Michael Hardy of the university's school of nursing and midwifery looked at how families in southern England used medical websites.
His findings indicate that access to previously obscure and often inaccessible medical knowledge enriches the doctor-
Some participating in the research report having renegotiated treatment for themselves or their children on the basis of information they found on the internet.
One patient reports: "My GP is very busy and does not have time to answer questions fully. Actually, it is much easier to think about what you want to ask when you look things up on the net. I don't get that nagging feeling that I'm needlessly taking up his time."
"Doctor in the house: the internet as a source of lay health knowledge and the challenge to expertise" is published in Sociology of Health and Illness (Vol 21, no 6, November 1999).