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2/2/2011
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80% Of Web Users Seek Health Information

Women, the college-educated, and caregivers are most likely to turn to the Internet for healthcare advice, reports Pew study.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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Slideshow: Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety

As the Internet continues to play a significant role in the delivery of health information, a study released Tuesday shows that eight in 10 Internet users look for health information online, making it the third most popular online pursuit after e-mail and using a search engine.

The study, conducted jointly by the Pew Internet Project and California HealthCare Foundation, further clarified that since one-quarter of adults do not go online, the percentage of health-information seekers is 59% among the total U.S. adult population.

The "Health Topics" study, which interviewed 3,000 people between August 9 and September 13, 2010, measures Internet users' interest in health information. It was expanded to include eight new topics that give a better indication of the specific health-related searches being conducted online, and found that, of Internet users:

-- 29% look online for information about food safety or recalls.

-- 24% look online for information about drug safety or recalls.

-- 19% look online for information about pregnancy and childbirth.

-- 17% look online for information about memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer's.

-- 16% look online for information about medical test results.

-- 14% look online for information about how to manage chronic pain.

-- 12% look online for information about long-term care for an elderly or disabled person.

-- 7% look online for information about end-of-life decisions.

"There are two forces at play in the data: access to the Internet and interest in health information. For example, women and men are equally likely to have access to the Internet, but women are more likely than men to report gathering health information online," the report concluded.

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