Web health info seekers tend not to check sources (Washington)

By ~lostgurl~ · Nov 1, 2006 · Updated Nov 1, 2006 ·
  1. ~lostgurl~
    Web health info seekers tend not to check sources

    MONDAY, 30 OCTOBER 2006

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]WASHINGTON: Only one-fourth of Americans who search the Internet for health advice regularly check the source and date of the information they find to assess its quality, according to a survey released on Sunday by the Pew Internet Project.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]About 10 million American adults - or 7 percent of US Internet users - searched for information on a health topic or medical problem on a typical day in August, the non-profit think-tank said. That ranks health searches at about the same level of popularity as paying bills online, reading blogs or using the Internet to find a phone number or address. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]Common health topics searched on the Web include specific diseases or medical treatments, exercise, nutrition, prescription drugs and alternative medicines, Pew said. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]Just 15 percent of those surveyed said they always checked the source and date of the health information found online, while another 10 percent said they did so most of the time. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they checked the source and date sometimes, hardly ever or never, Pew said. [/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]Pew researcher Susannah Fox said one possible reason why Internet users do not tend to check sources or dates is because of the health Web sites themselves. Only 2 percent of popular health sites display that information on their pages, according to a study by the US Department of Health and Human Services that is scheduled for release soon, Fox said. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]Most Web users look for health information with a general search engine such as Google or Yahoo, the study found. [/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]"The question is whether consumers are doing the best that they can by going to general search engines," Fox said. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]Several new search engines that focus only on medical topics have become available, including Healthline.com, Medstory.com, Healia.com, Mammahealth.com, and Kosmix.com. [/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]"It will be neat to see if they are able to change consumers' behavior in searching for information on the Web," Fox said. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, MS Sans Serif]The Pew Internet Project survey data was gathered through telephone interviews with 2,928 adults in August. The survey was posted on the Internet at: http://www.pewinternet.org./PPF/r/190/report_display.asp[/FONT]
    View PDF of report here:
    View PDF of questionnaire here:



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