Searching for Answers on the Internet
The Internet has become an essential source of information regarding medical issues. Eighty percent of Internet surfers in the USA are searching for medical information.
Improvements in the quality of life, advances in medical technologies and the boundless resources of knowledge and information that the Internet has made accessible, have all contributed to a more informed and demanding public and a public increasingly engaged in managing its own health issues. Health and medicine have become central issues in the lives of today’s public worldwide.
The number of people around the world who seek information regarding health issues on the Internet has grown significantly in recent years.
Today, in the USA, some 80% of Internet surfers over the age of 18 (about 113 million people) seek information on the topics of health and medicine. Of these, 64% search for information on a specific condition and 31% of them reported having been helped in a significant manner by the medical information or advice available online. (Pew, 2006)
About 45% of adults connected to the Web use it as their principle resource for medical information, consulting it even before turning to medical experts – 23%; or friends or family – 12.9%. (eMarketer, 2007) Keeping up-to-date with health matters online is as widespread in the USA as is paying one’s bills, looking up telephone numbers or reading blogs online. (Pew, 2006)
There is a similar trend in Europe, although the variance among countries is greater. Today, more than 148 million people per month surf the Web seeking information on health topics. The potential number of people seeking health information is even greater. Surveys show that 79% of European web surfers would like additional medical information online.