Survey: Most Do Not Check Source of Online Information
One-fourth of U.S. residents who search online for health information regularly check the source and date of the data to determine its quality, according to a survey released Sunday by the Pew Internet Project, Reuters/Boston Globe reports.
About 10 million U.S. residents, 7% of U.S. Internet users, used the Internet to look for data on a health topic or medical problem on an average day in August, according to the survey.
Fifteen percent of those surveyed reported that they always check the source and date of health information they find online, while another 10% of respondents said they checked the source and date most of the time. About 75% of respondents said they check the source and date of health information they find online sometimes, hardly ever or never, according to Pew (Reuters/Boston Globe, 10/30).
Susannah Fox, who led the survey, said, "It's not that consumers aren't interested in this stuff. They are actually finding they can't find it because Web sites aren't listing it." Fox added that most adults who search for health care information online "are not making health decisions necessarily independent of a doctor" but "are using the Internet to confirm decisions, to reassure themselves" (Brand, Denver Rocky Mountain News, 10/30).
Most Internet users used general search engines, such as Google or Yahoo!, to find health information, Reuters/Globe reports. Common health topics searched online include:
- Alternative medicines;
- Medical treatments;
- Prescription drugs; and
- Specific diseases(Reuters/Boston Globe, 10/30).