June 11, 2009

The Social Life of Health Information

Certain medical treatment or procedure

55% of internet users look online for information about a certain medical treatment or procedure.

Over the past six years, the percentage of online Americans who look for information about medical treatments or procedures has increased significantly. Currently, 55% of internet users go online to find information on medical treatments and procedure, up from 47% in 2002.

Certain medical treatment or procedure

Demographics

The percentage of internet users who look online for information about a specific medical treatment or procedure is very demographically divided.

Women are significantly more likely than men to look for medical treatment or procedure information. Three out of five online women (60%) look online for this information, while only about half (49%) of online men do so.

Internet users age 65 and older are much less likely than younger age groups to search the internet for information about a medical procedure. Forty-two percent of wired seniors look for specific medical treatment information online, while 54% of 50-64 year olds, 60% of 30-49 year olds, and 52% of 18-29 year olds look for this information.

Internet users with higher levels of education and incomes are also significantly more likely than those with lower education and income levels to research specific medical treatments or procedures online. Fully 63% of college graduates and 60% of adults with some college education look online for information about medical treatments or procedures. By contrast, 44% of internet users with a high school diploma and 43% of internet users with less than a high school education go online to find this information.

Similarly, 65% of internet users with household incomes of $75,000 or more and 60% of those making $50,000-$74,999 research certain medical treatments or procedures online, compared with about half (50%) of those making $30,000-$49,999 and just 46% of those making less than $30,000 to look for information on medical treatments.

Cite this publication: Susannah Fox and Sydney Jones. “The Social Life of Health Information.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (June 11, 2009) http://www.pewinternet.org/2009/06/11/the-social-life-of-health-information/, accessed on July 23, 2014.