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A large percentage of US online adults look up health information on the web on a regular basis, according to results of a new Harris Poll.

3/4 Online Adults Have Searched Health Info
Three-quarters (76%) of US adults have looked up health information online at some point. Among currently online adults, that figures jumps to almost nine in 10 (88%). Sixty-two percent of online adults have looked up health information online in the past month. By number, about 175 million US adults have looked online for health information at least once.

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3/4 Online Adults Search Health Info at least Occasionally
While one-third (32%) of online adults say they search for health information on the internet often, another 41% say they search sometimes, meaning a combined 73% of online adults at least occasionally search for health information online.

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In addition, another 15% of online adults say they hardly ever look for health information online, meaning only 11% never use the internet to find health data.

6 in 10 Online Adults Looks Up Health Info 1-5 Times/Month
Thirty-three percent of online adults say they have looked up health information one or two times in the past month, with another 26% saying they have looked up health information three to five times. This means that a combined 59% of online adults have looked up health information between one and five times in the past month.

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Another 6% have looked up health information six to nine times in the past month. However, a solid one in five (17%) online adults have looked up health information 10 or more times in the past month. Another 17% have not looked up health information online once in the past month, with 2% not sure.

Other Findings

  • Only 9% of adults who have looked up health information online report that they were somewhat (6%) or very (3%) unsuccessful. And only 8% believe that the information they found was unreliable.
  • Just more than half (53%) of all adults who have looked up health information online report that they have discussed information they found online with their doctors.
  • Half of all adults who have looked up health information online say they have searched for information on the Internet based on discussions with their doctors.

Adults with Chronic Disease Often Offline
Although most US adults go online to obtain health information, US adults with chronic disease are offline in disproportion to the general population, according to recent data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation.

Figures show that adults living with chronic disease are significantly less likely than healthy adults to have access to the internet. Eighty-one percent of adults reporting no chronic disease go online, compared to 62% of adults reporting one or more chronic diseases.
In addition, within the subgroup of adults suffering from chronic disease, the number of diseases they manage has further impact on their online usage. Sixty-eight percent of adults reporting one chronic disease go online, compared to only 52% of adults reporting two or more chronic diseases.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the US between July 13-18, 2010 among 1,066 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

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