Internet provides access to vast amounts of comprehensive information regarding any health-related subject. Patients increasingly use this information for health education using a search engine to identify education materials. An alternative approach of health education via Internet is based on utilizing a verified web site which provides structured interactive education guided by adult learning theories. Comparison of these two approaches in older patients was not performed systematically. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of a web-based computer-assisted education (CO-ED) system versus searching the Internet for learning about hypertension. Sixty hypertensive older adults (age 45+) were randomized into control or intervention groups. The control patients spent 30 to 40 minutes searching the Internet using a search engine for information about hypertension. The intervention patients spent 30 to 40 minutes using the CO-ED system, which provided computer-assisted instruction about major hypertension topics. Analysis of pre- and post- knowledge scores indicated a significant improvement among CO-ED users (14.6%) as opposed to Internet users (2%). Additionally, patients using the CO-ED program rated their learning experience more positively than those using the Internet.
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