Internet users turn to online resources nearly as much as they ask their doctor for medical and health information according to a new online survey.
Seventy percent of Internet users turned to the Internet for health or medical information, while 72 percent of those surveyed said they would ask their doctor.
Three-quarters of adults surveyed also said they wanted to be more informed about their personal health, and the health and well-being of their friends and family. Users said they found the Internet to be helpful in providing them with health information in a safer and more private environment.
“We’ve known for years that the Internet is an amazing information resource for medical concerns,” said Dr. John Grohol, publisher of the online mental health resource PsychCentral.com. “So it’s not surprising that people are increasingly turning to the Internet for health information, especially for concerns that may be embarrassing or still continue to carry a stigma.”
Younger adults are embarrassed by some of their personal health information. Adults aged 18-34 are still embarrassed when it comes to sharing personal health information. Twenty-one percent said they turned to the Internet for privacy, stating that they were just too embarrassed to talk to anyone about their medical or health issues.
The Internet has also surpassed other ways for obtaining health information, such as newspapers or magazines (30%), television (26%), books (25%), and friends and family (40%).
Nearly three-quarters (71%) of Americans search to help them diagnose or better understand a health or medical condition, and more than half of adults reporting doing the same for friends and family members (55 percent).
Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed reported leveraging the Internet to find alternative (e.g., homeopathic) treatment options.
Because the survey was only conducted online, it is naturally biased toward the use of the Internet over the use of other media or resources.
This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive for Ask.com within the United States between July 5 and July 9, 2007 among 3,389 adults (aged 18 and over).