Background: As internet access improves, patient self-education continues to increase. However, patient surgical background, e-literacy, and media exposure potentially influence what information patients search online. This impacts patient concern, healthcare decisions, and subsequent patient-physician interactions. The purpose of this pilot study is to characterize hernia patients’ use and the impact of internet self-education regarding surgical mesh. Methods: The target population included patients presenting for evaluation of hernia repair with mesh. A total of 30 patients were enrolled. Patients took surveys before and after the initial surgical consult. The surveys evaluated internet use, mesh research completed, the impact on patient opinions/decisions, and the impact of research on the patient-physician interaction. Results: The average age of the patients was 58.7 years; sixteen had prior surgery with surgical mesh. 93% of patients were aware of surgical mesh through the media, and 60% were motivated by the media to conduct research. 90% of patients conducted research, and 67% used the internet. Patients with negative attitudes toward mesh had more media exposure in comparison to those with neutral or positive attitudes (p = 0.046), and they were more likely to have researched surgical mesh because of media influence (p = 0.033). This group had the highest rate of perceived knowledge on mesh risks and the lowest regarding benefits (p = 0.013). Patients who had prior surgery without complication had the most positive attitude toward surgical mesh (p = 0.010) and were less likely to plan to do future internet research (p = 0.041) in comparison to patients who had surgery with complications or no prior surgery. Conclusions: Patients’ attitudes and perceived knowledge regarding surgical mesh are associated with media exposure and internet research. These attributes along with prior surgical experience impact the patient-physician relationship and shared decision-making model regarding patient care.
- Hernia repair
- Patient internet self-education
- Surgical mesh