The National Cancer Institute's Health Information National Trends Survey [HINTS]: A national cross-sectional analysis of talking to your doctor and other healthcare providers for health information

Julie E. Volkman, Tana M. Luger, Kimberly L.L. Harvey, Timothy P. Hogan, Stephanie L. Shimada, Daniel Amante, D. Keith McInnes, Hua Feng, Thomas K. Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Background: The need to understand preferred sources of health information remains important to providing patient-centered care. The Internet remains a popular resource for health information, but more traditional sources may still be valid for patients during a recent health need. This study sought to understand the characteristics of patients that turn to their doctor or healthcare provider first for a recent health or medical information need. Methods. Using the national cross-sectional survey, Health Information National Trend Study [HINTS], characteristics of those who sought a doctor or healthcare provider for a recent health information need were compared to other sources. Weighted survey responses from Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 of the HINTS survey were used for multivariable logistic regression. Results: A total 5,307 patient responses were analyzed. Overall, those who seek a doctor or healthcare provider first for a health need are female, 46-64 years, White non-Hispanic, educated, in good health and users of the Internet. Yet, adjusted logistic regressions showed that those who sought a doctor or healthcare provider first during a recent health information need compared to other sources were most likely to be 65+ years, in poor health, less educated and have health insurance. Conclusions: Patients who seek their doctor or healthcare provider first for health information rather than other sources of information represent a unique population. Doctors or healthcare providers remain an important resource for these patients during recent needs, despite the wide use of the Internet as a source of health information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 6 2014



  • Doctor-patient communication
  • Health information needs
  • National cross-sectional survey
  • Sources for health information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

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