However, it seems that those with more online savvy may be more accustomed to answering a health question online – 7% of Internet users with three or more years of experience search on a typical day, compared with 2% of Internet users with just six months of experience online.
Weight control and prescription drug information are high on the list of health interests Almost every health seeker (93%) has looked at one time or another for information about a particular illness or condition.
One member of the Harris Online focus group living with fibromyalgia said, “I can at least go into the doctor’s office with a good knowledge of what is going on and ways of treatment.” Nearly half of all health seekers (48%) have looked for alternative or experimental treatments or medicines.
Those who have been treated for a serious illness in the past year are more likely to have done this – 62%, compared with 48% of those who have escaped such a diagnosis.
Tens of millions of Americans turn to the Internet when they need help with health problems.
Health professionals are often apprehensive about the reliability of online health information and wonder how consumers can possibly find good advice in the untamed wilderness of the Internet.
Others are worried about the security of their credit card information.
Women are more likely than men to have researched a medical question online.
Some 72% of online women have sought medical information online, compared with 51% of online men.
Those in the middle age groups are more likely to turn to the Internet for health information than those under 30 or over 65.
So we set out to examine how Internet users search for information, how they establish its credibility, and how they decide to act on it. We surveyed 500 Internet users who go online for health care information.
This special sample, surveyed June 19-August 6, 2001, portrays the overall habits and attitudes of those Americans who use the Internet for medical information and advice.