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Consumers Seek Health Research, Diagnosis Tools Online

Younger consumers use mobile devices for health-related reasons more often

January 21, 2013

For many looking for healthcare information, the web has become a critical stop in the research process. More than one out of five internet users named the internet as their most trusted source of medical information, according to a September survey conducted by RxAlly.

Most Trusted Sources of Information When Making Healthcare Decisions According to US Internet Users, Sep 2012 (% of respondents)

But where are seekers of online medical info going to find answers to their healthcare questions? A January 2012 poll of US internet users by comScore found that general health websites were in high demand among those who visited a health-related site over the previous six months, viewed by 59% of them. Interestingly, government websites had the lowest rate of viewers, visited by only 8% of respondents, behind both disease sites (12%) and drug sites (9%).

Health-Related Websites that US Internet Users Prefer to Use, Jan 2012 (% of respondents)

Differences in how women and men used online community websites were not as pronounced as one might expect. The poll found that almost seven in 10 women using such sites sought information about symptoms and diagnoses, compared with almost six in 10 men. Two-thirds of women were on the hunt for general information, compared with just over six in 10 men. Surprisingly, men—who have a reputation for avoiding doctor visits—searched for information about preventive measures and community support in greater numbers than did women.

Types of Information Searched for on Health-Related Online Community Sites According to US Internet Users, by Gender, Jan 2012 (% of respondents)

The data reflects the practices by which internet users seeking healthcare info use the web—to educate themselves and find online communities to address health-related concerns.

Smart devices are also incorporating themselves into online health browsing, but much more so among younger demographics. According to the poll, 31% of those ages 18 to 24 who searched for health info and owned a smartphone used the device daily to research a health issue. That was significantly greater than the percentage of those ages 25 to 34 (19%) who did so, and more than twice as many as those ages 35 to 44 (15%).

Thirty-one percent of those ages 18 to 24 who performed online health queries and owned a tablet also performed daily health research on the device. But interestingly, those ages 45 to 54 were second behind them, at 17%.

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Check out today’s other articles, “More Shoppers Reach for Mobile to Browse, Buy” and “Privacy Concerns Remain for Smart Device Users in Australia.”


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