Web searches, patient-doctor conversations often linked

August 26, 2010

Fifty-three percent of those going online for health information report that they have discussed information they found online with their doctors, and 51% say they have searched for information on the Web based on discussions with their doctors, according to a new Harris Poll.

Fifty-three percent of those going online for health information report that they have discussed information they found online with their doctors, and 51% say they have searched for information on the Web based on discussions with their doctors, according to a new Harris Poll.

The poll found that the number of people searching for health information online continues to increase, and most of them are finding what they seek.

The recent poll found that 175 million American adults have ever gone online to look for health information. That number compares with 154 million in 2009, 117 million in 2005, and 50 million in 1998.

Further, frequency of usage also has increased. Thirty-two percent of all adults who are online say they look for health information "often," compared with 22% who said so last year.

Other findings:

Although the percentage of adults who go online (79%) has not changed significantly for several years, the proportion of those who are online and have ever used the Web to look for health information has increased to 88% this year, the highest number ever.

Eighty-one percent of respondents who have looked for health information online said they have done so in the last month, and 17% said they have gone online to look for health information 10 or more times in the last month. On average, they do so about six times a month, they said.

Eighty-six percent said they found what they were looking for online.

Eighty-five percent expressed a belief that the information they found was reliable.