A new Pew Internet report examines the role of Internet usage and social networking in the search for health-care information (72-page PDF). The report builds a profile of those who search for health information online and evaluates the type and content of the sources they’re using.
Among the highlights:
- 61 percent of adults look online for health information, less than those who use a health professional or family member, but more than those who use books or insurance providers.
- 52 percent of online health inquiries are on behalf of a third party, rather than the searchers themselves.
While a small majority of patients use user-created health information, very few of them create any of their own.
- Social networking sites have not yet become primary hubs for the exchange of health information.
- 60 percent of e-patients said their most recent search had an impact on their health behavior or that of others, and they said a rising majority of those impacts were positive.
- Demand for exercise and fitness information is growing faster than that for other categories, but specific diseases and treatments still draw more overall interest.
- A significant majority of e-patients used wireless, high-speed connections.
- Younger, wealthier and more educated folks were more likely to look online for health information.
Read the full report.