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More Than Half of All Americans Choose the Internet for Health Information

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on August 30, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 30, 2007 -- More Americans are searching for health information onlinethan ever before, but they’re also becoming choosier about where they findit.

A new survey from the National Institutes of Health shows that 58% of adultslooked for health or medical information on the Internet in 2005 compared with51% in 2003.

The number of Americans who searched for health information online forsomeone else also increased from 46% to 60% during the same time period.

The survey also shows a growing preference toward getting health informationfrom a health care provider rather than from other sources, such as books,friends and family, information specialists, and the Internet.

For example, the number of people using the Internet to communicate withtheir health care provider or their provider’s office, such as emailingquestions or setting up appointments on a web site, rose from 7% in 2003 to 10%in 2005.

Health Information Online

The Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) sponsored by theNational Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health was conductedamong a random telephone sample of more than 6,300 people in 2003 and 5,500people in 2005.

The results show that more people are searching for health informationonline, and younger or more educated people are more frequently users of theInternet for health information.

Other findings include:

  • People aged 50 to 64 most frequently searched for cancer-specificinformation online.
  • 24% said they trusted information from the Internet “a lot” in 2003compared with 19% in 2005.
  • The percentage who named the Internet as their preferred source ofcancer-related health information decreased from 34% in 2003 to 28% in2005.
  • The percentage who named a health care professional as their preferredsource of cancer-related health information increased from 49.5% to 55%.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Rutten, L. Cancer Communication: Health Information National Trends Survey, 2007. News release, National Institutes of Health. Cancer Communication: Health Information National Trends Survey, 2003 and 2005.

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