Saturday, December 28, 2013

Information behaviour of people with chronic conditions in the USA

Since I am still feeling poorly, I picked up on a health-related report from Pew Internet Research, published a month ago. The study surveyed 3,014 adults living in the United States, via landline phone or mobile phone, in August-September 2012. People who reported a chronic health condition and used the internet were "more likely than other online adults to: Gather information online about medical problems, treatments, and drugs.; Consult online reviews about drugs and other treatments.; Read or watch something online about someone else’s personal health experience."
They were also more likely to consult a doctor about the reliability of the information they had found. They used a wide range of sources (online and face to face), but mainly free ones. As in previous studies, they found that searches tended to start with search engines, and that many health searches were carried out on behalf of others. Those with chronic conditions were also more likely to be collecting information about their own health regularly (e.g. sleep patterns, blood pressure).

 Additionally "People living with chronic conditions are significantly less likely than other adults to have internet access: 72%, compared with 89% of adults who report no chronic conditions." Although some of this can be attributed to the fact that those with chronic health problems tend to be older and less well educated, there was still a difference even when factors such as age, gender and education were factored into calculations.
Fox, S. and Duggan, M. (2013) The Diagnosis Difference. The Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Photo by Sheila Webber: mulberries on the the oldest mulberry tree in the UK (planted in teh 17th century) in Charlton Park, August 2013.

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