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.

One 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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