Looking up health information popular Web pursuit

March 10, 2011

If your patients use the Web, they probably spend at least part of that time looking for health information. Such activity, undertaken by 80% of those using the Web, is the third most popular online pursuit, after email and search engine usage, among all those pursuits tracked by the Pew Web Project. So found a national telephone survey conducted by the Pew Web Project and the California HealthCare Foundation.

If your patients use the Web, they probably spend at least part of that time looking for health information. Such activity, undertaken by 80% of those using the Web, is the third most popular online pursuit, after email and search engine usage, among all those pursuits tracked by the Pew Web Project. So found a national telephone survey conducted by the Pew Web Project and the California HealthCare Foundation.

Not only are some demographic groups more likely than others to have Web access, but these same groups also are generally more likely to seek health information once online, the survey found. The most likely groups to look online for health information include caregivers, women, whites, younger adults, and adults with at least some college education. The groups least likely to look online for health information include African-Americans, Latinos, people living with disability, older adults, and adults with a high school education or less.

The rise of wireless Web access could shift the patterns of who is looking for health information online, however, according to the researchers. Young people, Latinos, and African-Americans increasingly are likely to use mobile devices rather than the Web to gather information, including health advice.

Other findings:

  • 66% of Web users look online for information about a specific disease or medical problem.

  • 56% of Web users look online for information about a certain medical treatment or procedure.

  • 44% of Web users look online for information about physicians or other health professionals.

  • 36% of Web users look online for information about hospitals or other medical facilities.

  • 33% of Web users look online for information related to health insurance, including private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

  • 24% of Web users look online for information about drug safety or recalls.

  • 19% of Web users look online for information about pregnancy and childbirth.

  • 17% of Web users look online for information about memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

  • 16% of Web users look online for information about medical test results.

  • 14% of Web users look online for information about how to manage chronic pain.

  • 12% of Web users look online for information about long-term care for an elderly or disabled person.
  • 7% of Web users look online for information about end-of-life decisions.