Internet use, online information seeking and knowledge among third molar patients attending public dental services

K. Hanna, P. Sambrook, J. M. Armfield, D. S. Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: While Australians are searching the internet for third molar (TM) information, the usefulness of online sources may be questioned due to quality variation. This study explored: (i) internet use, online information-seeking behaviour among TM patients attending public dental services; and (ii) whether patients’ TM knowledge scores are associated with the level of internet use and eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS) scores. Methods: Baseline survey data from the ‘Engaging Patients in Decision-Making’ study were used. Variables included: sociodemographics, internet access status, online information-seeking behaviour, eHEALS, the Control Preferences Scale (CPS) and TM knowledge. Results: Participants (N = 165) were mainly female (73.8%), aged 19–25 years (42.4%) and had ‘secondary school or less’ education (58.4%). A majority (N = 79, 52.7%) had sought online dental information which was associated with active decisional control preference (odds ratio = 3.1, P = 0.034) and higher educational attainment (odds ratio = 2.7, P = 0.040). TM knowledge scores were not associated with either the level of internet use (F(2,152) = 2.1, P = 0.094, χ2 = 0.0310) or the eHEALS scores (r = 0.147, P = 0.335). Conclusions: ‘The internet-prepared patient’ phenomena exists among public TM patients and was explained by preference for involvement in decision-making. However, internet use was not associated with better TM knowledge. Providing TM patients with internet guidance may be an opportunity to improve TM knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-330
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Dental Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Control Preferences Scale
  • eHealth Literacy Scale
  • information-seeking behaviour
  • internet
  • wisdom tooth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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