Pew Publishes 2013 Health Online Survey

1-15-2013 10-34-47 PM

The Pew Research Center publishes its 2013 Health Online survey. The survey measures the use of the Internet as a diagnostic tool by consumers. Despite the name recognition of sites like WebMD, more than 80 percent of online health searches began at a generic search engine like Google or Bing. The most frequent searches were for specific diseases or medical problems, followed by medical treatments, weight loss, and health insurance coverage.

The 2013 findings revealed that:

  • 59 percent of US adults have looked for health information online this year.
  • 35 percent say they went online specifically to try and figure out what medical condition they had.
  • Women are more likely than men to go online to figure out a diagnosis.
  • Younger people, white adults, those making more than $75,000 per year, and college-educated people were most likely to use the Internet as a diagnostic tool.
  • Of those who used the Internet to diagnose a condition, 53 percent say they followed up with a clinician to discuss their findings.
  • 41 percent say that a clinician confirmed their suspected diagnosis.
  • Minorities led the mHealth growth, with African Americans and Latinos being most likely to search for health information on a cell phone.

This is the first year that survey questions included the modifier “in the past 12 months.” In previous years, the questions were open ended. The new timeframe-limited questions will allow annualized trending of responses moving forward, which should be interesting.

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