Primary care physicians’ experiences of carrying out consultations on the internet

Göran Umefjord, Hans Malker, Niclas Olofsson, Lars-Olof Hensjö, Göran Petersson


Background The internet is increasingly used for health matters, including consulting a doctor. Primary care physicians (general practitioners) will probably be involved in performing text-based consultations on the internet as a complement to physical meetings. In the present study, we explored the experiences of GPs already performing consultations on the internet: the challenges, worries and educational demands of the task.
Materials and methods A questionnaire was given to 21 GPs performing consultations on the internet for a public, non-commercial ‘ask the doctor’ service. The questionnaire was carried out at a meeting or sent by mail. The doctors answered a total of 28 questions, 12 of which included graded alternatives.
Results The participating GPs were stimulated and challenged by performing consultations on the internet with previously unknown enquirers, in spite of limitations caused by the lack of personal meetings and physical examinations. The participants experienced a high educational value as a result of the problem-based learning situation induced by unfamiliar questions. The asynchronous feature was appreciated as it allowed time to reflect and perform relevant information searches before replying. Prior training and long-term experience as a family doctor were recommended before embarking on this method of consultation.
Conclusions We conclude that the GPs studied experienced their new role as internet doctors mainly in a positive way, with some limitations. With the increase in consultations on the internet, training in this technique should be integrated into the curricula of medical schools and of continuous professional development (CPD).


information services; internet; remote consultation

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

This is an open access journal, which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or their institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal starting from Volume 21 without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open accessFor permission regarding papers published in previous volumes, please contact us.

Privacy statement: The names and email addresses entered in this journal site will be used exclusively for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party.

Online ISSN 2058-4563 - Print ISSN 2058-4555. Published by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT