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How Many People Use Internet for Healthcare?

Posted - May 28, 2003 at 8:06 a.m.



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"YES, I DO USE THE INTERNET TO LOOK UP HEALTH INFORMATION."

"I DO NOT USE THE INTERNET TO LOOK UP HEALTH INFORMATION."

Lots of people go on-line to get health information, but not as many as we thought. That's according to the new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Laurence Baker/ Stafford University: "WE FOUND THAT ABOUT 40 PERCENT OF THE U.S. ADULT POPULATION WITH INTERNET ACCESS USES THE INTERNET FOR HEALTH CARE PURPOSES."'

Researchers from Stafford surveyed nearly 5-thousand internet users, asking specific questions about health care information.

BAKER: "DID YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW ON THE INTERNET? DID THE INTERNET MAKE YOU MORE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF WITHOUT THE INTERVENTION OF A PHYSICIAN?"

Here's what they found. While most people did learn something new, 78 percent went on-line for health information infrequently, every 2 or 3 months.

94 percent said it had no effect on how often they went to see their doctor.

And for 93 percent, it had no effect on telephone calls to doctors, either.

BAKER: "THERE ARE SOMETIMES FEARS OF COURSE THAT PEOPLE WILL GO ON LINE AND FIND INFORMATION AND NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT AND TELEPHONE THEIR PHYSICIAN AND REALLY GENERATE ALL KINDS OF DEMANDS ON THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. WE DIDN'T FIND THAT."

Dr. Baker says the study illustrates that internet health care information needs to be more accessible and user-friendly.

He says the internet has terrific potential to help more people.. people like Paul Kaplan.

Paul Kaplan/ Internet Users: "I'VE USED THE INTERNET TO GET INFORMATION ABOUT A SURGICAL PROCEDURE I WAS GOING TO HAVE, AND THAT WAS HELPFUL."

The study also found that only six percent of adult internet users use e-mail to contact their doctor or other health care providers.

And only five percent used the internet to get a prescription or buy pharmacy products.

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