As a researcher, I track the social impact of the internet on American society, particularly as it relates to health and health care.
Forthcoming book: Rebel Health: A Field Guide to the Patient-led Revolution in Medical Care (MIT Press, February 2024).
Most recent research report: Coping with COVID-19: How Young People Use Digital Media to Manage Their Mental Health, sponsored by Common Sense Media, Hopelab, and California Health Care Foundation.
Key data points on U.S. teens and adults:
- Since older adults are of particular interest to many people in health care, I’ll add: 73% of U.S. adults ages 65+ use the internet (2019). Education plays a role in seniors’ tech adoption: College graduates go online at significantly higher rates than those with lower levels of education. (2017)
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)
85% of U.S. teens and young adults (14- to 22-year-olds) say they have gone online for health information. The top five topics searched by this age group are COVID-19, fitness, anxiety, stress, and depression. (2020)
69% of U.S. teens and young adults say they have used mobile apps related to health, including for fitness, sleep, menstruation, and meditation, among other topics. (2020)
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)
40% of U.S. teens and young adults say they have gone online to try to find people with health conditions similar to their own. (2020)
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)
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)
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. (2013)
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)
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)
Research reports and journal articles:
“How Chronic-Disease Patients Are Innovating Together Online.” Harvard Business Review. April 2020.
“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. (Key findings)
“The Web at 25 in the U.S.” Pew Research Center. February 2014.
“The Social Life of Health Information.” Pew Research Center. January 2014.
“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.
“Health Communication 2.0: The Promise of Peer Participation.” Building the Evidence Base in Cancer Communication. 2010.
All the reports, presentations, and commentaries I wrote while at the Pew Research Center.
Featured image: “mesmerized by numbers” by Hsing Wei on Flickr