Background: Patientsâ engagement in health care decision making is constituted by at least two behaviors: Health information seeking and active involvement in medical decisions. Previous research reported that older adults desire a lot of information, but want to participate in decision making to a lesser degree. However, there is only limited evidence on the effect of desire for health information on seniorsâ perceived confidence in making an informed choice (ie, decision self-efficacy). Objective: The goal of this study was to investigate the role desire for health information has for older patients. More specifically, it tested whether decision self-efficacy increases as a function of an assisted computer-based information search. Additionally, the study allowed insights into the sources seniors with hypertension prefer to consult. Methods: A sample of 101 senior citizens (aged ≥60 years) with high blood pressure in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland answered a questionnaire before and after an informational intervention was applied. The intervention consisted of offering additional information on hypertension from five different sources and of providing the information the participant desired. Preference for receiving this information was the major independent variable. The main outcome measure was decision self-efficacy (assessed at baseline and posttest). Analyses of covariance were conducted to detect differences between and within who desired additional hypertension-related content (intervention group) and âinformation avoidersâ? (control group). Results: Health care professionals firmly remain the preferred and most trusted source of health information for senior patients. The second most consulted source was the internet (intervention group only). However, among the total sample, the internet obtained the lowest credibility score. A significant increase in decision self-efficacy occurred in seniors consulting additional information compared to information avoiders (F1,93=28.25, P<.001). Conclusions: Consulting health nformation on a computer screen, and assistance by a computer-savvy person, may be a helpful activity to increase perceived confidence in making treatment decisions in seniors with hypertension.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to deeply thank all the participating seniors who devoted their precious time to the study, and each coordinator of the older adults’ day center facilities who assisted in the recruitment phase. Special thanks go to Giovanni Franscella, who assisted the PI in the data collection process, and to the professional actor Max Zampetti for the valuable role played as the health care provider in the video-vignette created. We are also grateful to the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant FNS no: 100019_153526) who funded the experiment.
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- assisted computer-based information search
- decision self-efficacy
- desire for health information
- medical decision making
- quasi-experimental design
- senior hypertensive patients