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More Seeking Health Information Online
By Jennifer Warner, WebMD
Aug. 30, 2007

More Than Half of All Americans Choose the Internet for Health Information

More Americans are searching for health information online than ever before, but they?re also becoming choosier about where they find it.

A new survey from the National Institutes of Health shows that 58% of adults looked for health or medical information on the Internet in 2005 compared with 51% in 2003.

The number of Americans who searched for health information online for someone else also increased from 46% to 60% during the same time period.

The survey also shows a growing preference toward getting health information from a health care provider rather than from other sources, such as books, friends and family, information specialists, and the Internet.

For example, the number of people using the Internet to communicate with their health care provider or their provider?s office, such as emailing questions or setting up appointments on a web site, rose from 7% in 2003 to 10% in 2005.

Health Information Online
The Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) sponsored by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health was conducted among a random telephone sample of more than 6,300 people in 2003 and 5,500 people in 2005.

The results show that more people are searching for health information online, and younger or more educated people are more frequently users of the Internet for health information.

Other findings include:

  • People aged 50 to 64 most frequently searched for cancer-specific information online.
  • 24% said they trusted information from the Internet ?a lot? in 2003 compared with 19% in 2005.
  • The percentage who named the Internet as their preferred source of cancer-related health information decreased from 34% in 2003 to 28% in 2005.
  • The percentage who named a health care professional as their preferred source of cancer-related health information increased from 49.5% to 55%.
SOURCES: Rutten, L. Cancer Communication: Health Information National Trends Survey, 2007. News release, National Institutes of Health. Cancer Communication: Health Information National Trends Survey, 2003 and 2005.
 

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