February 1, 2013

Majority of Adults Look Online for Health Information

59%

About six-in-ten Americans say they sought health information online in the past year.

Americans are turning to the internet frequently for health information. About six-in-ten (59%) say they did so in the past year.

Nearly eight-in-ten (77%) of online health seekers say they began at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Another 13% say they began at a site that specializes in health information, like WebMD. Just 2% say they started their research at a more general site like Wikipedia and an additional 1% say they started at a social network site like Facebook.

When asked to think about the last time they went online for health or medical information, 39% of online health seekers say they looked for information related to their own situation. Another 39% say they looked for information related to someone else’s health or medical situation. An additional 15% of these internet users say they were looking both on their own and someone else’s behalf.

About a third of adults (35%) say they have gone online at one time or another specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. The Pew Internet and American Life Project refers to these people as “online diagnosers.” Read more