Education Level Remains Key in Likelihood of Seeking Health Information
Consumers who actively researched health concerns widely reported positive impacts. More than half said the information changed their overall approach to maintaining their health, and four in five said that the information helped them to better understand how to treat an illness or condition. These findings are from
Across all categories of age, education, income, race/ethnicity and health status, consumers increased their information seeking significantly, but education level remained the key factor in explaining how likely people are to seek health information. In 2007, for example, 72 percent of people with a graduate education sought health information, compared with 42 percent of those without a high school diploma.
“Across the board, more Americans are seeking health information from sources other than their doctors, but despite the striking jump, there is still a significant minority – about 45 percent – who didn’t seek any information about a personal health concern during the past 12 months,” said Ha T. Tu, M.P.A., an
The study’s findings are detailed in a new
? Use of all information sources rose substantially, but the proportion of Americans using the Internet as an information source grew the most rapidly, doubling from 16 percent in 2001 to 32 percent in 2007, according to the study. Consumers’ use of the Internet for health information is now on par with their use of the more traditional, longstanding sources of books, magazines and newspapers (33%) and friends or relatives (31%), which also increased significantly since 2001.
? Although elderly Americans sharply increased their information seeking, they still trail younger Americans by a substantial margin, especially in using Internet information sources. Nearly half of Americans 65 and older (48%) sought health information in 2007, up from 31 percent in 2001. Likewise, the proportion of seniors using the Internet to seek health information increased from 7 percent in 2001 to 18 percent in 2007.
? People with chronic conditions are more likely to seek health information. For example, two in three people with two or more chronic conditions (66%) sought health information in 2007, compared with one in two people without any chronic conditions (50%).
? After accounting for other personal characteristics, women are more likely than men, younger consumers are more likely than older consumers, whites and African Americans are more likely than Hispanics, and people with the highest incomes are more likely than those with the lowest incomes to seek health information. These differences, unlike education, are mostly modest to moderate in magnitude.