Pew Survey of Americans' Online Health Habits

Pew Internet & American Life Project

A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that patients and caregivers increasingly use the Internet to find information about symptoms, treatments, and support.

November 2013

As Americans increasingly access the Internet on mobile devices and at home, more patients and caregivers use it to ask and answer their health questions. Since 2002, research by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project has found that American adults use online resources, including search engines and social networks, as significant sources of health information.

The following reports, supported by the California HealthCare Foundation, chronicle the growing online health care revolution.

The Diagnosis Difference (November 26, 2013): People with chronic health conditions report less access to the Internet than other adults, yet once online they are more likely to pursue health topics. Learn more about how the web habits of this group differ. 

Family Caregivers Are Wired for Health (June 20, 2013): Caregiving has evolved from feeding and bathing assistance to complex medical management. Learn how caregivers have responded by turning to the Internet for information and support.

Tracking for Health (January 28, 2013): Keeping notes on your health can improve it. This report shows how many Americans track a health indicator like weight, diet, exercise, or symptoms.

Health Online 2013 (January 15, 2013): A surprising number of Americans use the Internet for self-diagnosis and triage. According to this report, one in three US adults have gone online to diagnose a condition and about half consulted a medical professional about what they found.

Mobile Health 2012 (November 8, 2012): Smartphones expand Internet access and enable software applications, key functionalities that give consumers access to health information wherever and whenever they need it.

Family Caregivers Online (July 12, 2012): This report finds that 8 in 10 caregivers (79%) have access to the Internet. Of these, 88% look online for health information, outpacing other Internet users on every surveyed health topic.

The Social Life of Health Information, 2011 (May 12, 2011): The Internet has changed people's relationships with information. This report shows that online resources, including advice from peers, are a significant source of health information in the United States.

Peer-to-Peer Health Care (February 28, 2011): Many Americans turn to friends and family for support and advice when they have a health problem. This report shows how people's networks are expanding to include online peers, particularly in the crucible of rare disease.

Health Topics (February 1, 2011): Symptoms and treatments continue to dominate Internet users' health searches. Food safety, drug safety, and pregnancy information are among eight new topics explored in this report.

Chronic Disease and the Internet (March 24, 2010): US adults living with chronic disease are significantly less likely than healthy adults to have access to the Internet (62% vs. 81%). However, this report reveals that once online, having a chronic disease increases the probability that an individual will take advantage of social media to share what they know and to learn from their peers.

All reports are available on the Pew Internet site through the links above.

Reader Comments

as a patient the most difficult thing is to have a correct diagnosys. Internet forums are perfect because there is a lot of different cases, and a lot of people had our diseases before us!

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