May 24, 2022

New Pew Internet Report Looks at Health Information Seeking Behavior on the Internet

Health Online 2012 was released today.

From the Pew Internet & American Life Project and California Healthcare Commission:

81% of U.S. adults use the internet and 59% say they have looked online for health information in the past year. 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.

Online resources join the stream of information flowing in from people’s interactions with clinicians, family, and fellow patients. When respondents were asked about the last time they had a serious health issue and to whom they turned for help, either online or offline:

  • 70% of U.S. adults got information, care, or support from a doctor or other health care professional.
  • 60% got information or support from friends and family.
  • 24% got information or support from others who have the same health condition.

This report also updates the Pew Internet Project’s trends related to the social life of health information and peer-to-peer health care.

Here are More Findings From the Report:

  • Of those, 8 in 10 say they started their last health inquiry at a general search engine. Smaller groups started at a dedicated health website or social networking site.
  • 1 in 4 health information seekers say they have encountered a pay wall. Most tried to find the same information somewhere else, but some just gave up. Only 2% paid the fee.
  • The social life of health information is a small, but steady presence in American life. In addition to the care and communication provided by family, friends, and fellow patients, 26% of internet users have read or watched someone else’s experience about health or medical issues in the last 12 months.
  • One in five internet users have consulted online reviews and rankings of health care service providers and treatments, compared with, for example, the 8 in 10 internet users who say they have researched a general consumer product or service online. And only 3-4% of internet users have posted a health care-related review.

Direct to Full Text Report (HTML) ||| PDF Version

See Also: Mobile Health 2012
Also from Pew Internet.

See Also: Collection of Pew Internet Health Reports

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.