The internet is a place to find information of all types. People look for news, sports scores, astrological information, and a myriad of other data that is easily found in a matter of seconds.
Now, a new story has delivered the news that health information is on the minds of 80% of those accessing the internet, and they are seeking information concerning all areas of human health issues.
A study sponsored by the Pew Internet Project and the California Healthcare Foundation is the source of the figure, and made clear that since there are still 25% of adults who do not use the internet for anything (staggering idea, isn’t it?) that 59% of the overall population are seeking information about health outside the confines of a doctor’s office.
The study further revealed what it is specifically that people are searching for, by means of asking pointed questions about the topics the 3000 people taking part in the survey were looking at –
— 29% look online for information about food safety or recalls.
— 24% look online for information about drug safety or recalls.
— 19% look online for information about pregnancy and childbirth.
— 17% look online for information about memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s.
— 16% look online for information about medical test results.
— 14% look online for information about how to manage chronic pain.
— 12% look online for information about long-term care for an elderly or disabled person.
— 7% look online for information about end-of-life decisions
[from Information Week]
Another interesting thing about the search for health knowledge online is that the great divider is college education – less than 40% of non-college people look for health information online, but over 90% of college educated people search the internet for such health topics.
Another thing, which would seem otherwise counterintuitive, is that the people searching online are those who are best prepared to get the opinion of a doctor, based upon economic factors, while those least prepared to pay for a doctor’s direct input keep away from the easy and less expensive internet methods.
The same sort of thing holds true across all race and economic lines – the more educated the respondent, the more likely they have searched the internet for information about health concerns, above other methods.
Using the internet to find out about health has likely brought a few hypochondriacs into the doctor’s office, but it certainly has also brought forth many who, listening to their bodies, and the information garnered from key sites where knowledge is dispersed, have saved themselves countless trouble, and perhaps even their lives, because conditions only in beginning stages of development were discovered, making prompt treatment, and cure, possible.