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The Web Provides Valuable & Trustworthy Healthcare Info

July 28, 2009 | Healthcare | Press Releases | No Comments

The Internet has become a powerful influence in health care. Eleven years ago, in 1998, The Harris Poll reported that about one-quarter of all adults, 54 million people had ever gone online to look for health information. This number increased rapidly every year until 2007, when we found that 71% of adults, 160 million people, had done this. The great majority of users find this information reliable and many discuss it with their doctors.

However, last year and again this year we have found no increase in the number of cyberchondriacs (the word we use to describe these people). A new Harris Poll find that 67% of adults, 154 million people, now report having looked for health information online. This nationwide Harris Poll of 1,010 U.S. adults surveyed by telephone by Harris Interactive between July 7 and 13, 2008 shows how much cyberchondriacs value the information they find online:

  • The overwhelming majority (83%) of cyberchondriacs report that their search for information online was successful and almost half (45%) say it was “very successful”;
  • An even larger majority (87%) believes that this information was reliable (but only 28% say it was “very reliable”);
  • Fully 44% of cyberchondriacs have discussed information they obtained online with their doctors (however, this is lower than the 58% we reported in 2007); and,
  • Half (49%) of cyberchondriacs have searched for information online based on discussions they had with their doctors.


There are two reasons why the number of cyberchondriacs has not increased for two years. One is that the proportion of adults who are online, which rose rapidly from 38% in 1998 to 79% in 2007, has not increased for the last two years. The other is that the proportion of those online who report having used the Internet to look for health information has remained remarkably steady, varying only from 71% to 84% over the last eleven years, and currently stands at 78% slightly lower than it was in 2007.

To read the entire report visit HarrisInteractive.com.

 

 

 

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