June 11, 2009

The Social Life of Health Information

Alternative treatments or medicines

35% of internet users look online for information about alternative treatments or medicines.

More internet users are looking for information about alternative treatments and medicines than they were six years ago. Currently, 35% of internet users look online for information about alternative treatments, up from 28% of online adults in 2002.

Alternative treatment


Women are significantly more likely than men to look online for alternative treatments and medicines (37%, compared with 31%).

In addition, adults over the age of 65 are significantly less likely than younger adults to look up alternative treatments and medicines online. This gap is a change from 2002, when internet users from all age groups were more equally likely to research alternative treatments online.

In addition, since 2002, internet users age 18-29 have become significantly more likely to look for alternative treatments. Young internet users trailed older ones in 2002 with just 22% interested in alternative treatments online, but in 2008 34% of young internet users claimed to have searched online for information about alterative treatments or medicines.

Alternative treatments or medicines

Alternative treatment information seekers are more likely than drug information seekers to look for information about a different type of treatment.

Nearly half (48%) of adults who look online for information about alternative treatments or medicines also reported looking into either prescription drugs or experimental treatment as well. Some 37% of those researching alternative treatments also search online for both drug treatment as well as experimental treatment information. Just 15% of those seeking information on alternative treatment look exclusively for information on that type of treatment.

Adults seeking information on alternative treatments are significantly more likely than those seeking prescription drug information to look into a second or third form of treatment. However, alternative treatment seekers are significantly less likely to research a third treatment method (but more likely to look at just two) than seekers of experimental treatment.

Alternative treatment seekers