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The internet – rather than healthcare professionals – is by far online US households’ main source for healthcare information, and women more than men seek such information online, according to a recent Burst Media survey.

Burst surveyed some 3,700 web users 18 years and older on how they research health information – including prescription drugs and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies.

The following are among the findings of the survey:

  • Online health information is sought out by all age segments:
    • 78.1% of respondents use the internet to gather health information.
    • Women more than men go online for health info – 83.5% vs. 72.4%.
    • 90.1% of women age 25-34 search for health information online.
    • More than three-quarters of those 65 years and older say they go online for health information.


  • Young adults refer to online health info most often:
    • 40.8% of respondents age18-34 search online for health information at least once a week
    • 29.0% of respondents 35 years and older do so.
  • Users go online before and after visits to doctor:
    • 33.9% of respondents research health topics online before visiting a medical professional.
    • Women 25-34 are most likely (55.4%) to do so.
    • 43.5% of respondents use the internet after a medical visit to research topics discussed during the visit.
    • Women are more likely than men to do further online research: 50.8% vs. 35.5%.
  • The internet, more than the family doctor, is the primary source of health info:
    • 45.2% of respondents say the internet is the primary source of health information
    • 23.0% cite health professionals, and 12.9% cite friends and family.
    • Women more than men use the internet as their primary household health resource: 49.9% vs. 40.3%.
    • Men more than women cite health professionals: 25.8% vs. 20.4%.


  • Users click on drug ads:
    • 23.5% of respondents say they have clicked on a prescription or OTC drug/remedy ad
    • 24.6% of women and 22.3% of men say they have done so.
    • The proportion of those who have click on ads is fairly consistent among the age segments, with the highest percentage – 27.2% – among respondents age 55+.
  • Healthcare workers, family/friends top info sources:
    • 40.4% cited healthcare professionals as the top source for prescription and OTC drug/remedy information.
    • 35.3% cited family and friends.
    • 29.6% cited websites.
    • 29.3% pointed to pharmacists.
    • 26.1% said TV and print ads
    • Other sources: news stories (25.2%), internet advertising (18.6%) and product pamphlets/brochures (17.4%).

Burst provides more findings from the study, here.

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