From Pew: The Social Life of Health Information

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released a major new study on the impact of the Web on health information uptake by consumers: The Social Life of Health Information. You can review the results online or download a PDF version. Very cool the way they have it set up. There is far too much to excerpt here but some key stats for the data junkies in the house:

General

  • 74% of American adults go online
  • 57% of American households have broadband connection
  • 61% of American adults look online for health information (Pew calls these people "e-patients")
  • 52% of all online health inquiries are on behalf of someone other than the person typing in the search terms.

Seeking/sharing health info

  • 41% of e-patients have read someone else's commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog.
  • 24% of e-patients have consulted rankings or reviews online of doctors, hospitals, or other providers
  • 12% of e-patients use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or to see updates about others

Acting on the info

  • 60% say the information found online affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition.
  • 56% say it changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone they help take care of.
  • 53% say it lead them to ask a doctor new questions, or to get a second opinion from another doctor
  • 38% say it changed the way they cope with a chronic condition or manage pain.

Credible or not?

  • 42% of all adults, or 60% of e-patients, say they or someone they know has been helped by following medical advice or health information found on the internet.
  • Just 3% of all adults, or 3% of e-patients, say they or someone they know has been harmed by following medical advice or health information found on the internet