This research investigates the use and impact of Internet as a health information and communication resource for parents of children admitted at a NICU along the illness trajectory.
A prospective, qualitative case study methodology is used. Observations in 4 NICU's in Belgium were done to describe the organisational characteristics (structure and culture) of each NICU. Subsequent observations focused on cases (neonates and their parents), applying purposive sampling. The selected cases are followed prospectively until approximately six months after admission. Open in-depth interviews with parents probes the use of Internet as a health information and communication tool, the illness trajectory and the relationship with healthcare professionals.
Parents search on the www for several reasons: it is part of their coping strategy; it compensates for insufficient information received from other sources; for some Internet use is a commodified tool and the search for information is part of a habit. People first seem to select mainly experience-based information and eventually objective and complex medical information. The impact of Internet on the parent-caregiver-relationship is minimal, although it can interfere in longer trajectories. The online information is used as a reference to ask questions to the neonatologists. Online information helps parents to understand potential future problems.
Currently it lacks in-depth scientific knowledge on how Internet is used in different phases of an illness trajectory. Taking the trajectory as a framework, in order to understand the complexity of information use and information needs adds additional knowledge to the research on health information on the net. The trajectory of newborns admitted to a NICU and their parents mediates the use of the Internet as an information and communication resource. The Internet can have a reassuring effect. Moreover, more long term diseases leads to a learning curve and change in use of Internet resources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Association for Communication in Healthcare, Oslo
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2008
EventUnknown -
Duration: 3 Sep 2008 → …


Period3/09/08 → …

    Research areas

  • Access to information, Communication, Education, Intensive care units, neonatal, Illness trajectory, Information behavior

ID: 2080673