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60 million now use the web to find health info.
91 percent find exactly what they need.
A new Harris Poll concludes that 60 million adults--68 percent of those who use the Internet--have used the World Wide Web to find health information. 91 percent of these online health seekers said that the last time they went online, they were able to fi nd the health information they wanted.
The sites most often visited were those of medical societies (40 percent), patient advocacy or support groups (32 percent), pharmaceutical companies (20 percent) hospitals (16 percent), and "other" [including commercial sites] (26 percent). The sites judg ed most helpful belonged to medical societies (36 percent), and patient advocacy or support groups (32 percent).
At the beginning of this year, 44 percent of US adults were online. The US online population has increased from 9 percent in 1995 to 44 percent in 1999, a 489 percent increase. Tome on the Net per user is also increasing: Not only are more people going on line but they are doing so much more often.
These were the most popular online health topics:
Commenting on the Harris survey, AMA President Nancy Dickey, MD, told the Washington Post that a "huge" population of patients now routinely uses the Internet to obtain a second opinion on their doctor's advice. While this is, on the whole, a positive tre nd, it makes it necessary for doctors to spend more time discussing care options with patients, she said. Net-savvy patients often come to the doctor's office with requests for specific treatments and medications. Doctors sometimes disagree with these rec ommendations but don't want to have to argue or explain why the patient's Internet-based conclusions may be incorrect.
Another recent survey found that 29 percent of Americans have used the Internet to find medical information. The survey, conducted by Schwarz Pharma, Inc., found that 33 percent of women and 24 percent of men have looked for medical information on the Net . Using online health resources is especially popular among those aged 18 to 44. Within that age bracket, 35 percent have conducted such a search. Among those over age 55, only 19 percent have searched for medical information online. The survey found that 37 percent of those with children at home use the Net for medical information compared with 23 percent of households without children.
Published in The Ferguson Report, Number 2, April 1999
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