Many Web Users Look for Medical Advice Online
More Americans use the Internet for health care information than for online shopping or financial advice, according to a new survey released this weekend, Reuters/Wall Street Journal reports (Reuters/Wall Street Journal, 11/27). The Pew Internet and American Life Project conducted telephone surveys of 12,751 adults between March 1 and Aug. 20 to determine how the Internet has influenced people's health decisions. The survey has a 5 percentage point margin of error (Hopper, AP/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 11/26). According to the survey, nearly 55% of all Internet users reported looking for online health information, compared to 47% who had shopped online (Reuters/Wall Street Journal, 11/27). Of the "health seekers," 41% indicated that the information they found influenced their decision about visiting the doctor. The survey also found that:
- 52 million Americans seek online health information at least once a month;
- 21 million of those health seekers report that their health decisions are influenced by the online information they read;
- Health seekers report that they use the Internet more for information when they or someone they know is sick, rather than for preventive medical information;
- Most health seekers go to health Web sites for information rather than communicating with providers or insurers (Ward, Dallas Morning News, 11/27).
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