Majority Find Online Health Information Reliable

    July 28, 2009

The number of people looking for health information online has reached 154 million, representing 67 percent of the U.S. adult population, according to a new poll from Harris Interactive.

The majority (83%) of people looking for health information online indicate their search was successful and almost half (45%) say it was "very successful."

An even larger majority (87%) believes that this information was reliable, but only 28 percent said it was "very reliable."

Reliability of Searching for Information Online About Health Topics

Nearly half (44%) of health searchers have discussed the information the found online with their doctors, but that number is lower than the 58 percent Harris reported in 2007. In addition, 49 percent have searched for information online based on discussions they had with their doctors.

The poll found the number of people searching for health information online had not increased in two years. One reason is that the proportion of adults who are online, which rose rapidly from 38 percent in 1998 to 79 percent in 2007, has not increased for the last two years.

Another reason is that the proportion of those online that have used the Internet to look for health information has remained steady, varying only from 71 percent to 84 percent over the last eleven year.

"The Internet continues to provide a large majority of the public with information about health or health care that they find useful and reliable," the poll concludes.

Discussion with Doctor About Information Found Online

"The Internet is surely helping to inform the public about health and health care and to stimulate discussions between doctors and patients that probably improve the doctor-patient relationship."