Health information remains high on the list of popular American uses for the internet
Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 02/02/2011 18:24
Seeking health information is the third-most-prevalent activity among American Internet users, according to a report being issued Feb. 1 by the Pew Internet Project. The only things more universal were exchanging e-mail and using search engines. (Of course, if someone uses Google to look up "shingles," there's obviously some overlap.) Eight out of 10 Internet users report going online for health information, even if it's only occasionally. "Health-care information is there when they need it," said Susannah Fox, associate director. People most commonly look up diseases, treatments and doctors, often on behalf of a child or other dependent.
Pew has been tracking Internet use in many fields - commerce, music, civic life - since 2000, and from the beginning, Fox said, "we were really struck by the depth of feeling that people expressed" about how the Internet helped them with health care. "In many ways, the Internet has become the de facto second opinion," she said. "People go online to prepare for a doctor's appointment - or recover from [it]."
Health Care Is High Among Web Searches
Four in five Internet users have searched the Web for health care information, most often checking on specific diseases and treatments, a Pew Internet Project survey reported on Tuesday.
Women were among the most frequent seekers of health information, especially those who have children or keep watch on behalf of relatives and friends. Adults with at least some college education and younger adults were also big users, Pew said.
Health information remains one of the most important subjects that internet users research online. Symptoms and treatments continue to dominate internet users' health searches, but food safety, drug safety, and pregnancy information are among eight new topics included in the current survey. In all, 80% of internet users gather health information online.
About the Survey
This report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between August 9 and September 13, 2010, among a sample of 3,001 adults, age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. A combination of landline and cellular random digit dial (RDD) samples was used to represent all adults in the continental United States who have access to either a landline or cellular telephone. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. For results based Internet users (n=2,065), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting telephone surveys may introduce some error or bias into the findings of opinion polls. More information is available in the Methodology section of this report.