HarrisInteractive’s latest poll on Americans searching for health information online begs the question: “Has the number of cyberchondriacs declined?”

The pure stats show that 1 in 2 American adults searched for health information in the past month — about the same proportion as last year (within the statistical sampling error).
So can we assume that the number of people going online for health info has plateaued?

Health Populi’s Hot Points: I would consider this finding as a natural maturation of a market. What’s underneath the number needs further analysis: just what are people doing in health online? The next layers of analysis under this will tell us how people are interacting with the health information. Harris tells us that about half of the online health searchers are motivated to go online by doctors prompting them to do so; and half share the information they’ve found with their doctor.
Another factor will be the aging of the population. As Gen X and Millenials age, we’ll see greater takeup of health information search.
Beyond that, we want to know how the information is used for self-care, managing chronic illness for oneself or a loved one, wellness and health promotion, and linking up with other patients as examples of using the health information for health actions.

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