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The Growing Demand For Health Information

What is "consumer health information"?

Consumer health information is simply health or medical information produced or intended for people who are not health professionals. Consumer health information helps people to understand their health and make health-related decisions for themselves or someone else. It also includes information about prevention and wellness. Consumer health information can be found anywhere from pharmacies, grocery stores, and health food stores, to bookstores, physicians offices, libraries, and of course, the World Wide Web.

Why should I know about consumer health information?


Several reports point to information regarding the evolving trend of Americans and their quest for health information:
  • Internet Health Resources: Health searches and email have become more commonplace, but there is room for improvement in searches and overall Internet access, Pew Internet & American Life Project, July 16, 2003
  • Increasingly, members of the general public [your patrons] are going to the World Wide Web in search of health information, either for themselves or a loved one. In a recent national survey, it was determined that 80% of Internet users, or 93 million Americans have gone online in search of at least one of 16 major health topics. This makes the act of looking for health or medical information one of the most popular activities online, after email (93%) and researching a product or service before buying it (83%). Read more...
  • Vital Decisions: How Internet users decide what information to trust when they or their loved ones are sick, Pew Internet & American Life Project, May 22, 2002
    About 6 million Americans go online for medical advice on a typical day. That means more people go online for medical advice on any given day than actually visit health professionals, according to figures provided by the American Medical Association. Only about one quarter of health seekers follow the recommended protocol on thoroughly checking the source and timeliness of information and are vigilant about verifying a site's information every time they search for health information. Read More...
  • Cyberchondriacs Update, Harris Poll #21, May 1, 2002
    80% of all adults who are online (i.e., 53% of all adults) sometimes use the Internet to look for health care information. However, only 18% say they do this "often", while most do so "sometimes" (35%), or "hardly ever" (27%). This 80% of all those online amounts to 110 million cyberchondriacs nationwide. This compares with 54 million in 1998, 69 million in 1999 and 97 million last year. These data show that the Internet continues to be used by huge, and growing, numbers of the public interested in getting information about particular diseases or treatments or about staying healthy. The results also demonstrate the critical importance to health care websites of the need to be quickly and easily accessible through search engines and portals. Read More...

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