Women, Whites Most Likely to Seek Health Info Online: Survey

Education, job, income and insurance status also played role in Internet use for this purpose

THURSDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- A new U.S. survey finds that women are more likely than men to use the Internet for medical information, and whites are more likely to do so than minorities.

According to the findings released Thursday by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, whites aged 18 to 64 were almost twice as likely as Hispanics to search for health information online.

The 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) also found that:

  • Fifty-seven percent of whites surveyed had looked up medical information on the Internet in the previous 12 months, compared to 38 percent of blacks, 29 percent of Hispanics and 48 percent of Asians.
  • Among those aged 18 to 64, employed people (53 percent) were more likely than the unemployed (41 percent) to look for health information online, and people with higher incomes in that age group were about twice as likely to do so as those with lower incomes.
  • Educated people were much more likely to use the Internet for this purpose over the previous year: 74 percent of college graduates had done so, compared to just 14 percent of those with less than a high school education.
  • Those with private health insurance were more likely to seek health information online over the past year (59 percent did so) than those with government-funded Medicaid insurance (31 percent) or no coverage (33 percent).

The researchers, Robin A. Cohen and Patricia F. Adams, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health Interview Statistics, reported their findings in the July NCHS Data Brief.

"Sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors were associated with adults who had used the Internet to look up health information. Greater use of the Internet for health information in the past 12 months among adults was associated with being ages 25 to 44, non-Hispanic white, employed, college educated, with income at or above 300 percent of the federal poverty level, and having private health insurance," the authors concluded.

The data was based on 10 questions about adult Internet use included in the 2009 NHIS, which collected information from 27,731 people throughout the United States.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has links to many sites that provide health information.

Randy Dotinga SOURCE: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, news release, July 21, 2011

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