The potential of consumer health informatics

T K Houston, H E Ehrenberger
Seminars in Oncology Nursing 2001, 17 (1): 41-7

OBJECTIVES: To describe the rapidly evolving field of consumer health informatics (CHI), which is empowering the patient and the public.

DATA SOURCES: Published articles, research studies, and government reports pertaining to interactive health communication and CHI.

CONCLUSIONS: Application of CHI can provide information to patients and the public, promote self-care, enable informed decision-making, promote healthy behaviors, and promote peer information exchange and social support. Quality, research methodology, and accessibility must all be increased to ensure that CHI achieves its potential to improve the nation's health.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: With the advent of the internet, the profusion of consumer health-related web sites, online support groups, and electronic patient-centered communications present new challenges for clinical practice. Health care providers have important roles in helping their patients as well as the public locate, assess, and interpret health information.

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