Is The Web Good For One’s Health?

For good or ill, roughly 10 million adults search the Internet for health information on a given day, according to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Eighty-two percent of online women and 77 percent of online men have done so at some point. The proportion of people who are online “health seekers,” as the report dubs them, is highest in the 30-49 age bracket (84 percent) and lowest in the 65-plus cohort (68 percent). Sixty-six percent of seekers initiated their most recent inquiry from a search engine and 27 percent from a health- related site. The chart indicates the kinds of information people hunt for. Do they act on what they find? Just over half (53 percent) of health seekers said their searches have had an impact on the way they manage their health. The downside is that some people may be getting a high dosage of misinformation. Just 15 percent of seekers said they always check the source and date of the health information they get online.