Tags: online | health | diagnosis

1 in 3 use the Web for Health Diagnoses

Wednesday, 16 Jan 2013 10:41 AM


Thirty-five percent of Americans have gone online to try to help diagnose a health condition, based on their own symptoms or those of someone else, a new survey shows.

The findings, based on a national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, spotlight the growing role of the Internet in providing consumer-health information and underscore the importance of consulting credible Web-based sources for medical data.

“Online resources join the stream of information flowing in from people's interactions with clinicians, family, and fellow patients,” the report’s authors noted. “Eight-one percent of U.S. adults use the internet and 59 percent say they have looked online for health information in the past year.”

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The telephone survey, involving more than 3,000 U.S. residents, also found that more than one in three Americans “have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have.”

Nearly half (46 percent) of these “online diagnosers” said the information they found online led them to seek the attention of a medical professional and 38 percent said the condition was something they felt they could take care of at home.

The survey also found women are more likely than men to go online to figure out a possible diagnosis. Others more likely to consult the Web for health information: younger people, white adults, and those who live in households earning more than $75,000 or who have a college degree.

“It is important to note what these findings mean — and what they don’t mean,” the Pew pollsters noted. “Historically, people have always tried to answer their health questions at home and made personal choices about whether and when to consult a clinician. Many have now added the Internet to their personal health toolbox, helping themselves and their loved ones better understand what might be ailing them.

“This study was not designed to determine whether the Internet has had a good or bad influence on healthcare. It measures the scope, but not the outcome, of this activity.”

The poll also found doctors and clinicians remain the central resource for information or support during serious health episodes. About 70 percent of poll respondents said they got information, care, or support from a doctor or other healthcare professional the last time they had a serious health issue. About 60 percent said they consulted friends and family; and 24 percent turned to others who have the same health condition.

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Thirty-five percent of Americans have gone online to try to help diagnose a health condition, according to a new poll.
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Wednesday, 16 Jan 2013 10:41 AM
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