Study examines who gets health info online

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.

1 thought on “Study examines who gets health info online

  1. Avatar photolwild

    Overall, I’m not surprised, and I do see many people online looking for exercise and fitness information–there’s a lot of misinformation out there from which to choose. I am a bit surprised that social networking sites are not identified as hubs for health information; I see a lot of very specific physical ailments with significant forums. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over time.

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