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8 out of 10 Internet Users Go Online for Health Information

A new survey from the Pew Internet Project and California HealthCare Foundation shows that more and more people are counting on the Internet for health info, and in fact it is the third most popular online pursuit following email and using a search engine, according to this survey.

The groups most likely to rely on the Internet for health info are caregivers (people, they say, often search more for others than for themselves), women, whites, younger adults, and those with at least some college education.

On the flip side, those who use the Internet less for this purpose are African-Americans, Latinos, people living with disability, older adults, and adults with a high school education or less.

Still, mobile could change the landscape. Young people, African-Americans, and Latinos are using their mobile devices more and more for info, including health.

Of current health information seekers, most use the Internet to search about conditions (66%), and then treatments and procedures (56%).

WebMD was chosen as a source for the 10 most commonly searched topics in 2010. You may be surprised.

Under diseases or medical problems:

  1. Shingles
  2. Gallbladder
  3. Gout
  4. Hemorrhoids
  5. Lupus
  6. Skin problems
  7. Allergies
  8. Heart disease
  9. Diabetes
  10. Sleep disorders


As for the top treatments or procedures searched for on WebMD in 2010:

  1. Pain relievers
  2. Antidepressants
  3. High blood pressure medication
  4. Corticosteroids
  5. Hysterectomy
  6. Diabetes medication
  7. ADHD medication
  8. Antibiotics
  9. Colonoscopy
  10. Cholesterol‐lowering medication

As we’ve seen at WebMD, people are also very interested in food and drug recalls.

  • 29% of Internet users seek information about food safety or recalls.
  • 24% of Internet users seek information about drug safety or recalls.


If you’d like to read more, the full report is available at (.PDF file)

I hope you enjoy it.

Sean Swint
Executive Editor, WebMD


The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


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