Ethics Survey of Consumer Attitudes about Health Web Sites

Cyber Dialogue and Institute for the Future


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This is archived content, for historical reference only.

Conducted in 2000, this survey of more than 1,000 adult U.S. Internet users showed that consumers were wary of sharing their personal health information online and that the convergence of technology and health raised many privacy concerns.

The survey pointed to the urgent need for a thoughtful, thorough, and fair discussion of ways to secure individual privacy, foster strong ethical behavior, and harness the incredible power of the Internet to improve the quality of health care for all Americans.

According to the survey, 75% of those seeking health information on the Internet were concerned or very concerned about Web sites sharing their personal health information with a third party without permission. For those who used the Internet, but who did not seek online health information, concern about privacy and security was the second most often cited reason for not doing so, following the lack of need for health information.

However, the survey also showed that consumers were willing to share a range of personal information if the information was used to enhance the quality of their online experience and was not subject to unwarranted or undisclosed sharing or abuse.

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