As a researcher, I track the social impact of the internet on American society, particularly as it relates to health and health care. Highlights:
- Since older adults are of particular interest to many people in health care, I’ll add: 67% of U.S. adults ages 65+ use the internet. Education plays a role in seniors’ tech adoption: College graduates go online at significantly higher rates than those with lower levels of education. (2017)
- For more on how internet access affects people relationship with health information, please see: “The impact of the internet on one man’s life”; “I was born too soon”; and other essays about internet access.
- See: “Save us, Facebook”; “The online health revolution (it’s not too late to jump in)”; and other essays about Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms.
59% of U.S. adults say they have looked online for information about a range of health topics in the past year. (Full report: 2013)
- See: “Googling is a sign of patient engagement” and other essays about searching online for health information.
87% of U.S. teens and young adults (14- to 22-year-olds) say they have ever gone online for health information. The top five topics searched by this age group are fitness (63%), nutrition (52%), stress (44%), anxiety (42%), and depression (39%). (2018)
64% of U.S. teens and young adults say they have used mobile apps related to health, including for fitness, sleep, meditation, and medication reminders, among other topics. (2018)
61% of of U.S. teens and young adults say they have read, listened to, or watched other people share about their health experiences online, whether in podcasts, TED talks, or YouTube videos. (2018)
39% of U.S. teens and young adults say they have gone online to try to find people with health conditions similar to their own, using methods such as participating in online forums or closed social media groups on specific issues, doing hashtag searches on social media, or following people with similar health conditions. (2018)
One third (33%) of U.S. teens and young adults have successfully connected with health peers online, and 91% of them say the experience was helpful. (2018)
One in five (20%) of U.S. teens and young adults report having connected with health providers online, through tools like online messaging, apps, texting, and video chat. (2018)
35% of U.S. adults say they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. (2013)
- See: “Health Sites: Some are more equal than others”; “Cyberchondria: Old wine in new bottles”; and other essays about searching online for a diagnosis (particularly those with rare conditions).
One in four U.S. adults (24%) says that they turned to others who have the same health condition during their last bout with illness. One in four internet users (26%) have read or watched someone else’s experience about health or medical issues in the last 12 months. And 16% of internet users have gone online to find others who might share the same health concerns in the last year. (2013)
- See: “Peer-to-peer health care: Crazy. Crazy. Crazy. Obvious”; “How did you find your people?”; and other essays and conversations about peer-to-peer health care.
Seven in ten U.S. adults track a health indicator for themselves or a loved one and many say this activity has changed their overall approach to health. Technology plays a minor role. (2013)
- See: “The e is for engagement” (aka, the Skinny Jeans talk); “What’s the future for self-tracking?”; and other essays related to tracking for health.
39% of U.S. adults report that they are caring for a loved one, either an adult or a child with serious health issues. Caregivers are heavy technology users and are much more likely than other adults to take part in a wide range of health-related activities. (2013)
- See: “Love made visible”; “3 home health care hacks”; and other related essays and conversations about caregivers.
45% of U.S. adults report that they live with one or more chronic conditions. Many remain offline in an online world. However, many take their health decisions seriously—and are seriously social about gathering and sharing information, both online and offline. (2013)
- See: “A field guide to The Diagnosis Difference”; “False boundaries in health care”; and other essays and conversations about living with chronic conditions.
Research reports and journal articles:
“Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S.” Hopelab/Well Being Trust. July 2018.
“The Web at 25 in the U.S.” Pew Research Center. February 2014.
“The Social Life of Health Information.” Pew Research Center. January 2014.
“The Diagnosis Difference.” Pew Research Center. November 2013.
“Family Caregivers are Wired for Health.” Pew Research Center. June 20, 2013.
“After Dr. Google: Peer-to-Peer Health Care.” Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Vol. 131 No. Supplement 4 June 1, 2013; pp. S224 -S225).
“Tracking for Health.” Pew Research Center. January 28, 2013.
“Health Online 2013.” Pew Research Center. January 15, 2013.
“Mobile Health 2012.” Pew Research Center. November 8, 2012.
“Family Caregivers Online.” Pew Research Center. July 12, 2012.
“Bowling Alone, Healing Together: The Role of Social Capital in Delivery Reform.” The American Journal of Managed Care: Volume 18, Number 6. June 2012.
“The Social Life of Health Information, 2011.” Pew Research Center. May 12, 2011.
“Peer-to-peer Healthcare.” Pew Research Center. February 28, 2011.
All the reports, presentations, and commentaries I wrote while at the Pew Research Center.
Featured image: “mesmerized by numbers” by Hsing Wei on Flickr