Address correspondence to M. Kate Bundorf, Ph.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., Stanford University School of Medicine, HRP Redwood Building, Room 108, Stanford, CA 94305-5405. Todd H. Wagner, Ph.D., is with the VA Palo Alto and Stanford Health Research and Policy, Menlo Park CA. Sara Jean Singer, M.B.A., is with the Stanford University Center for Health Policy and Harvard University Ph.D. Program in Health Policy, Boston, MA. Laurence C. Baker, Ph.D., is with the Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.
Who Searches the Internet for Health Information?
Article first published online: 25 JAN 2006
Health Services Research
Volume 41, Issue 3p1, pages 819–836, June 2006
How to Cite
Bundorf, M. K., Wagner, T. H., Singer, S. J. and Baker, L. C. (2006), Who Searches the Internet for Health Information?. Health Services Research, 41: 819–836. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00510.x
- Issue published online: 25 JAN 2006
- Article first published online: 25 JAN 2006
- health information;
- travel time;
- chronic conditions
Objective. To determine what types of consumers use the Internet as a source of health information.
Data Sources. A survey of consumer use of the Internet for health information conducted during December 2001 and January 2002.
Study Design. We estimated multivariate regression models to test hypotheses regarding the characteristics of consumers that affect information seeking behavior.
Data Collection. Respondents were randomly sampled from an Internet-enabled panel of over 60,000 households. Our survey was sent to 12,878 panel members, and 69.4 percent of surveyed panel members responded. We collected information about respondents' use of the Internet to search for health information and to communicate about health care with others using the Internet or e-mail within the last year.
Principal Findings. Individuals with reported chronic conditions were more likely than those without to search for health information on the Internet. The uninsured, particularly those with a reported chronic condition, were more likely than the privately insured to search. Individuals with longer travel times for their usual source of care were more likely to use the Internet for health-related communication than those with shorter travel times.
Conclusions. Populations with serious health needs and those facing significant barriers in accessing health care in traditional settings turn to the Internet for health information.