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Health Topics: 80% of Internet Users Look for Health Information Online

If this statistic is true for the healthcare field, it is equally if not more the case for any and every other business or activity. In every field–from finding recipes to physicians– Internet use is up.  In fact, 72% of Americans use an online search engine, according to a May 2011 Pew Research Center survey. That figure is up from 52% in January 2002, data show.

In the medical field, while extensive use of the Internet can be helpful toward the goal of being an informed consumer, Internet use is also causing a new disorder: cyberchondria–an unfounded anxiety concerning one’s wellness brought on by visiting health and medical websites.

This is all the more reason that personal and professional responsibility for your business or practice website is an important step in providing the most accurate and educational material, with the proper perspective and cautions to users. This will assist them in negotiating the Internet in the most effective and productive way possible, minus the cyberchondria.

Here is a breakdown of Internet use for various medical conditions:

66%: Specific disease or medical problem
56%: Certain medical treatment or procedure
44%: Doctors or other health professionals
36%: Hospitals or other medical facilities
33%: Health insurance, including private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid
29%: Food safety or recalls
24%: Drug safety or recalls
22%: Environmental health hazards
19%: Pregnancy and childbirth
17%: Memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s
16%: Medical test results
14%: How to manage chronic pain
12%: Long-term care for an elderly or disabled person
7%: End-of-life decisions
28%: Another health topic not included in the survey
80%: At least one of these topics

Source: “Health topics: 80% of internet users look for health information online,” Pew Internet & American Life Project, Feb. 1, 2011