Eighty-five percent of American adults own a cell phone. Older adults are less likely than younger adults to use a mobile phone, but their numbers are still robust: 58% of adults ages 65 and older own one.
The Pew Internet Project has previously found that 17% of cell phone users have specifically used their phones to look up health or medical information.
Disparities in access and in interest in health information once again combine to magnify differences among groups. The table below details the percentage of adults in each demographic group who have access to a cell phone and who use a cell phone to look for health information. For example, younger adults are much more likely than older adults to both have a cell phone. Younger cell phone users are also more likely than older ones to use their phones to look for health information. The result is significant gaps among demographic groups when it comes to on-the-phone health searches.
Search engines provide another perspective on mobile health information-gathering. Yahoo, for example, reports that "pregnancy," "herpes," and "STD" (sexually transmitted diseases) are among the top five searches performed on the mobile version of their site. These topics do not appear at all among the top five health searches for the non-mobile versions of either Yahoo or Google.