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A detailed look at how Americans search for health information online

We’ve previously reported on the popularity among U.S. adults of using the Internet to search for health information. But a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project takes a deeper look at how Americans are using online sources to connect with others with similar medical conditions, research specific health concerns or share health-care information.

The research is based on telephone interviews conducted in August and September 2010 among 3,001 U.S. adults. Survey results showed that among the 74 percent of respondents who used the Internet:

  • 80 percent of Internet users have looked online for information about any of 15 health topics such as a specific disease or treatment. This translates to 59 percent of all adults [interviewed].
  • 34 percent of Internet users, or 25 percent of adults, have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog.
  • 16 percent of Internet users, or 12 percent of adults, have consulted online rankings or reviews of doctors or other providers.
  • 15 percent of Internet users, or 11 percent of adults, have consulted online rankings or reviews of hospitals or other medical facilities.

Additionally, 62 percent of adult Internet users, or 46 percent of all adults, reported using social media. Survey results showed that of this group:

  • 23 percent of social networking site users have followed their friends’ personal health experiences or updates on the site. This translates to 11 percent of all adults.
  • 15 percent have gotten any health information on the sites.
  • 11 percent have posted comments, queries, or information about health or medical matters.

The report was authored by Susannah Fox, who will be delivering a closing keynote speech at the Medicine 2.0 Conference at Stanford on Sept. 16.

Previously: The third most popular activity on the Internet and More than half of U.S. adults turn to the Internet for health information

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