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The internet is increasingly becoming the first point of contact for UK pet owners wanting advice about the health and welfare of their animal. Pet owner clients want to ask their veterinarians for guidance about navigating the web for accurate and useful information. However, in the UK, surprisingly few veterinarians have this conversation with their clients or provide them with an ‘information prescription’.
Internet use for health information
The internet is now an integral part of daily, modern life in the UK and there has been a proliferation of websites which cater to the public’s interest in the health and nutrition of people and their pets.
In human medicine, people seeking health information on the internet has gained wider currency in the past decade and has become a fruitful area of academic and applied research.1,2 Patients are increasingly equipped with health information before attending doctors’ appointments, without any perceived detrimental impact on trust, attitudes or willingness to participate in consultation.2 Online health information is being used to empower the patient and improve the patient-practitioner relationship and consultation experience. Patients feel that they are able to ask better questions and are in a stronger position to communicate more effectively with their healthcare providers. However, concerns among healthcare providers remain regarding the quality of the evidence-base on information found online: specifically the range, diversity and provenance of the types of knowledge provided and its technical accuracy. Patients …
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