When it comes to health information, online trumps print. Online is the #1 source for health information among 83% of consumers; print attracts only 11% of people as the go-to source for health information. Broadcast is preferred by only 5% as the primary preferred health information source.

Once online, it’s health-focused websites that get the lions’ share of search:

  • 1 in 2 American adults use general health-focused Web sites
  • 43% research specific conditions on ailment-focused sites
  • 5% go to online communities
  • 3% go to pharmaceutical companies’ branded drug sites.

Prospectiv conducted this survey into Internet health habits in October 2008. By that time, consumers were getting real about the economic downturn. Prospectiv found that economic concerns were directly impacting health behaviors:

  • 87% of people were concerned about escalating costs of prescription drugs
  • 82% would welcome receiving prescription drug vouchers and free sample offers directly from pharmaceutical companies
  • 65% of consumers prefer enewsletters for receiving prescription vouchers and samples.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Now that Americans are dealing with declining household assets and strained budgets, they’re seeking assistance in the form of information, coupons, and samples from the health organizations with whom they deal. Yet the trust gap between Americans and pharmaceutical companies has been wide in the past several years; see Health Populi on Big Pharma’s corporate reputation from July 2008 here.

Health consumers’ personal credit crises will drive them to seek assistance wherever they can get it — from credible sources. This is a moment of opportunity for pharma companies to rebuild trust with the public. The Prospectiv data show that 49% of people didn’t know about branded pharma sites, and 38% lacked trust in the company-run sites.

The industry can use this time to close the trust gap and provide authentic assistance and guidance to people who are chronically ill and seeking help in all forms — financial, informational, product, access.