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The internet has become a significant source of health information.


As many as 62% of Finnish Internet users search for online health information. A majority of the users of this “health library”, the portal, think that the site is easy to use. When comparing the opinions of users to those of other online sources of health information, it also seems that information is more easily found on Terveyskirjasto. Moreover, many of the users of the site found it an advantage that it provides information on when self-care might be sufficient and when one should see a doctor.

An easy-to-use library

The online health portal has gained solid popularity among its users. Every day, 60,000–70,000 of its articles are accessed, making the annual rate more than 20 million times. Within one month, the site attracts 800,000 unique visits.

According to the user survey (*) carried out in May 2007, 95% of the respondents find the portal easy to use. Furthermore, 40% of the visitors felt they had found the information they were looking for very easily and only 5% reported not having found the information at all. The corresponding figures provided by the control survey carried out by the market research firm TNS Radar Oy for those who were unaware of (**) were 12% (very well), and 9% (very poorly).

Health information makes a difference and eases the mind

Of all the users of, 22% felt that the information on the site significantly reduced their need to contact their local health centre. The corresponding figure in TNS Radar Oy’s control group was 7%. The effect is not merely to reduce the number of contacts. Some respondents, 3.4% of the users, reported that the information obtained from the portal significantly increased their need to contact the health centre, while only 0.5% of those accessing health information available on other sites reported such effect.

– helps customers in self-care by providing reliable information at a time when it is most needed. Many of those who had been considering whether or not to see a doctor found it useful that Terveyskirjasto also gives advice when it is advisable to do so. This steers customer behaviour and the number of unnecessary contacts in health centres are reduced. It is not necessary to seek medical consultation immediately because of uncertainty, as the customer receives support from Terveyskirjasto when deciding how urgent his or her condition is. On the other hand, seeking a doctor’s opinion early on can save lives, says Pekka Mustonen, Managing Director of Duodecim Medical Publications Ltd.

The health portal is based on a continually updated database provided by Duodecim Medical Publications. The articles are also updated with sections on the prevention of illnesses and increasingly accurate descriptions of symptoms that would indicate a need to see a doctor.

– Our aim is to develop a continually updated and comprehensive medical database service. The database used by physicians is linked to the corresponding article on, which contains the same content but in a language that is more understandable to a layperson. The information can be printed out for the customer to support care at home, Mustonen adds.

Reliability and transparency are key

The most important element in online health information is its reliability and transparency. According to the TNS Radar Oy survey, 47% of men and 33% of women feel that finding reliable and objective information on the Internet was difficult. Women are more likely to first seek information on the Internet, while men primarily resort to consulting a doctor. More than half (52%) of the respondents had searched for information on the website of their own municipal healthcare provider. Search engines are also much used: 40% of the respondents prefer searching for information via Google or similar.

Sitra supports the development of electronic healthcare services

Sitra is offering the contents of Duodecim’s Terveyskirjasto healthcare library to the general public free of charge until the end of 2007. – The user rate of has shown that there is clear demand for self-care. A practical tool such as this provides access to reliable information and hence enables people to take real and active responsibility for their own health. We are convinced that the public should have every possible support in these issues. It will be increasingly important to integrate the contents of such services as part of the electronic interactive basic services in healthcare, says Hannu Hanhijärvi, Executive Director of Sitra’s Health Care Programme.

(*) The user survey for was carried out with an online questionnaire on in May 2007. A total of 8,602 respondents participated in the survey.
(**) The survey carried out by TNS Radar Oy aimed at finding out how Finnish users search for health-related information on the Internet. The survey was quantitative and carried out via a TNS Gallup Forum Internet panel. It was carried out in August 2007, with 1,170 respondents participating.

Further information:

Pekka Mustonen, Managing Director, Duodecim Medical Publications
tel. +358 50 595 9730, e-mail

The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim
Annakaisa Tavast, Communications Manager
tel. +358 9 6188 5218, e-mail

Hannu Hanhijärvi, Executive Director, Sitra’s Health Care Programme
tel. +358 9 6189 9440, e-mail
Sitra’s Health Care Programme communications, Elina Antila, Kuule Oy
tel. +358 50 548 3838, e-mail