The California HealthCare Foundation engaged the Pew Internet & American Life Project to take a closer look at how Californians use the Internet to research health information, particularly Latino Internet users and low-income Internet users.
Low-income Californians are more likely than other low-income Americans to go online and to search for health information.1
- 45% of Californians living in households with annual incomes of less than $30,000 report having access to the Internet, compared to 36% of those living in low-income households outside California (those living in the 47 other continental states).
- 84% of low-income Californian Internet users have searched online for at least one health topic, compared to 77% of low-income non-Californian Internet users.
- 66% of low-income California Internet users report that the Internet has improved the health and medical information and services they receive. This is not quite as high as the 76% of higher-income Internet users who report benefits from going online, but it nevertheless represents a striking endorsement of the way that online searches help those with medical issues.
- By contrast, 77% of Californians (and 74% of non-Californians) living in households with more than $30,000 annual income have Internet access. 83% of higher-income Californian Internet users and 84% of higher-income non-Californian Internet users have searched for health information online.
Latino Californians search online for health information, especially if they speak English.
- 58% of California’s English-speaking Latinos have access to the Internet, compared to 63% of all Californians.
- 78% of English-speaking Californian Latino Internet users have researched at least one health topic online, which is just below the average for all Californian Internet users (83%).
- 74% of California’s Latino Internet users in our survey report that the Internet has improved the health and medical information and services they receive.
- However, the Center for Studying Health System Change has found that, for the U.S. as a whole, Spanish-speaking Latinos were about half as likely as their English-speaking counterparts to have looked for health information online.2
Health insurance, alternative medicine, and experimental treatments are more popular topics among Californian Internet users than other online Americans.
- 31% of online Californians have searched the Internet for information about health insurance, compared to 24% of the rest of the country’s Internet users.
- 33% of online Californians have searched for alternative treatments, compared to 27% of the rest of the country’s Internet users.
- 23% of online Californians have searched for experimental medical treatments, compared to 17% of the rest of the country’s Internet users.