One-Quarter of Online Health Information Seekers Verify Source and Timeliness of Data, Survey Finds
While the number of consumers relying on the Internet for health information continues to rise -- up 40% from 2000 -- only a small minority of these consumers actively verifies the source and timeliness of the content they view, according to a survey released yesterday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Princeton Survey Research Associates completed the survey for Pew, interviewing 500 online adult health consumers over the telephone in March of this year. More than 80% of people who search online for health information reported finding the information they were looking for, but only about one-quarter said they are vigilant about verifying a site's information every time they use it, the report found. Seventy-two percent of Internet-using adults who were interviewed for the report said that "all or most" online health information could be believed, and nearly 70% said they had not yet seen "wrong or misleading" health information online. About half of all online health consumers said they based their assessments on "common sense," discounting information from Web sites that appear "too commercial" or do not include any "seal of approval." Nearly three-fourths said they have rejected online health information at some point (Fox/Rainie, "Vital Decisions: How Internet Users Decide What Information to Trust When They or Their Loved Ones Are Sick," 5/22). The study is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the study. For more iHealth & Technology stories, visit iHealthBeat.org, a new Web publication sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.