More people are using the Web to track their health information and follow what others are doing to stay healthy, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
in four Internet users are starting to track their own health information-including
blood pressure, symptoms, diet, blood sugar levels and exercise routine-online,
according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's The
Social Life of Health Information 2011
American Internet users are motivated by "feedback loops," or online
health indicators that other people may post about a specific problem or
symptom. Many times, these posts point out problems about their own lives that
people do not see themselves, according to Susannah Fox, associate director for
digital strategy at Pew.
lack these feedback loops that let us know you're doing the right thing [or]
you're not doing the right thing," Fox told eWEEK.
in general are disconnected from seeing the results of their health
choices," she explained. "We don't see our arteries clogging up because
of the two donuts we eat every morning for breakfast."
health information could help people close these feedback loops.
a book called "The Decision Tree" by Thomas Goetz led Fox to research
if people are tracking their weight, diet, exercise routine or other health
indicators online, since those are potential elements of a health data feedback
the survey, Pew interviewed 3,001 adults ages 18 and older between Aug. 9 and
Sept. 13, 2010.
Americans are seeking support and feedback
from peers online
, they mainly consult with their physicians offline.
80 percent of Internet users, or 59 percent of all adults, have researched
health topics online, and 34 percent have read about health online on a
newsgroup, Website or blog, Pew reports.
are using the Internet to maintain their workout routines, post reviews of
medications and raise awareness of chronic illnesses.
addition, one in three caregivers
use the Internet to look up drug reviews, according to the May 12 report.
this study shows is that caregivers are likely to be using the Internet and
social tools to pursue health information," Fox said.
addition, the Pew report found that 25 percent of Internet users surveyed have
watched an online video about health information.
users with chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension are also more
likely to look up health information.
the growth in people using the Internet to search for health information, only
15 percent of social networking users seek health information on these sites,
lot of people expect social networking sites to become everyone's first choice
as a pathway to information. We're not seeing that in our health
research," Fox said. "What we're seeing in the data is that people
are using dedicated health arenas to talk about health, places like blogs,
health sites or news stories about health."
information shared among Facebook friends is still a bit of "TMI,"
she noted. However, when people do post their health information online, their
peers tend to notice.
readers use the comment fields of mainstream news sites to respond to health
articles and form a dialogue, she said.
addition, 16 percent of Internet users have checked online doctor rankings, and
15 percent of users have consulted hospital reviews.
conducted its research along with the California Healthcare Foundation, a
philanthropy group focused on improving health care in that state.