WebMD Medical News
Laura J. Martin, MD
May 12, 2011 -- Millions of Americans turn to the Internet for medical information, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.
The survey also finds that although people heavily use information found online, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals are the first choice for advice about health concerns.
The survey, based on telephone interviews with 3,001 adults in the U.S., finds that of the 74% of Americans who use the Internet, 80% have looked online for information about any of 15 health topics, such as a specific disease or treatment. Pew says this translates to 59% of all adults.
Other key findings of the survey:
Pew researchers say that as broadband and mobile access spreads, more people are sharing what they are doing or thinking. This includes tracking workout routines, posting reviews of their medical treatments, and raising awareness about certain health conditions.
And some patients and caregivers are taking an active role in tracking and sharing what they have learned. For example, of adults who use the Internet:
Pew says about 62% of adults who use the Internet also use social networking sites, such as Facebook. The survey says that:
Pew says in a news release that people are increasingly using the new media as social tools and often are motivated by the prospect of gaining information about health conditions, and perhaps making contact with other people.
Other key findings:
SOURCES:News release, Pew Internet & American Life Project.Fox, S. The Social Life of Health Information, May 12, 2011.
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