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May 2006


According to Pew Internet Research, as many as “eight in ten internet users have looked for health information online, with increased interest in diet, fitness, drugs, health insurance, experimental treatments, and particular doctors and hospitals” . According to a recent Pew report “fully 58% of those who found the internet to be crucial or important during a loved one’s recent health crisis say the single most important source of information was something they found online”. (1)

It is estimated that over 150 million people rely on the Internet each year to research health-related information.  One of the most common health conditions researched on the Internet is back pain. The American Academy of Spine Physicians (AASP) is preparing its members to meet this growing interest and demand.  (2)

The AASP continues to strive towards having one of the largest online databases of educational information for patients and the public about the spine, spine disorders, diagnostic procedures, spine-related products and available spinecare.

Accessing information online takes less time and costs less than pursuing information in more traditional ways.  The Internet provides access to a broad range of information on all topics related to the spine.  Internet searches also bring users in contact with healthcare professionals and centers who specialize in spinecare.  It provides an invaluable opportunity for users to quickly learn more about diagnostic and treatment options.  Internet users can quickly access renowned experts and national organizations such as the AASP by striking a few keys on their computer keyboard.   Individuals no longer have to rely solely on their primary physician for information.

The World Wide Web has placed a greater demand on all physicians to be better at what they do and how they educate their patients.  The physician in private practice outside a large healthcare system will struggle to keep up.  A growing number of people are using the Internet to find a specialist or subspecialist rather than going to the yellow pages.  Patients do not always rely on their attending physician; they go to the Internet to research therapeutic options and make sure their physician or physicians are reviewing all of their reasonable options.  The American Academy of Spine Physicians (AASP) is committed to making peer-reviewed information available to its membership in both printed and electronic formats.  The AASP provides a spinecare information system which members can rely on to better serve their patients.

(1,2) References from Pew Internet ( www.pewinternet.org

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