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Susannah Fox Discusses Mobile, Social Health at the NLM

This month Pew Internet and American Life Project Associate Director, Digital Strategy, Susannah Fox met with representatives from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to discuss recent data on health information access. Topics addressed included changes occurring related to mobile access to the Internet and the importance of social networking for sharing health information.

Recent data released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in the Mobile Access 2010 report shows that demographic groups including African American adults and English-speaking Latino adults are among the most likely to access the Internet through a mobile device such as a laptop or cell phone.  Utilizing a wide range of features available on cell phones, these groups connect and share information through a variety of methods. From accessing websites to sending or receiving text messages, cell phone owners are able to access information on the go.

Fox also discussed how different age groups are using mobile devices to access and share information. According to the report 95% of 18-29 year olds use cell phones to send and receive text messages. 48% of users in this age group report accessing social networking sites on their mobile device and 40% report watching video on their phone.

Using this information Fox encouraged the NLM as well as other organizations to be ready and able to provide accessible and readable versions of their websites for mobile users.

Looking for health information on the Internet is another important aspect of the data collected by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Fox discussed how the Internet transforms the information seeking behavior of people diagnosed with a chronic illness.  According to the March 2010 report, Chronic Disease on the Internet, US adults with a chronic disease are less likely to have access to the Internet. However, for chronically ill patients with access to the Internet, their use and ability to access health information and connect with other patients is greatly increased.

In her meeting recap Fox generated thought provoking questions for the NLM and medical librarians. Discussion of this information continues online at Fox’s discussion materials are provided below.

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