The Internet and the therapeutic education of patients: A systematic review of the literature

  • Gremeaux V
  • Coudeyre E
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Objectives: To evaluate from a review of the literature the interest of using the Internet as a tool for the therapeutic education of patients. Method: A systematic review of Pubmed was carried out using the key words: the Internet, or World Wide Web and patient education, or patient preference, or self-care. The search was restricted to articles in English published between 1990 and 2009. References to the selected articles were also analyzed. Only randomized controlled studies were retained. Results: Thirty-nine articles concerning 20 different diseases met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Different types of programs were proposed: informative, interactive, cognitive-behavioral and programs concerning self-management of the disease and the treatment. These different approaches were sometimes compared. The use of quality Internet sites made it possible to induce beneficial changes in lifestyle habits, and to diminish subjective and/or objective symptom severity in chronic invalidating diseases when used as a complement to traditional management. By using the Internet, patients were also able to improve decision-making skills to a degree that was at least as good as that obtained using traditional paper documents. Conclusion: The Internet is an effective complementary tool that can contribute to improving therapeutic education. Nonetheless, healthcare professionals should work with patients to create quality sites that correspond more closely to their expectations. It is also essential for learned societies such as the SOFMER to invest in therapeutic education on the Internet to make quality therapeutic education modules based on factual medical data and complying with good practices available on line. © 2010 Elsevier Masson SAS.




Gremeaux, V., & Coudeyre, E. (2010). The Internet and the therapeutic education of patients: A systematic review of the literature. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 53(10), 669–692.

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