Eight in ten internet users look online for health information, making it the third most popular online pursuit among all those tracked by the Pew Internet Project, following email and using a search engine. Since one-quarter of adults do not go online, the percentage of health information seekers is 59% among the total U.S. adult population.
The survey finds that not only are some demographic groups more likely than others to have internet access, but these same groups are generally more likely to seek health information once online.
The most likely groups to look online for health information include:
- Adults who, in the past 12 months, have provided unpaid care to a parent, child, friend, or other loved one
- Adults between the ages of 18-49
- Adults with at least some college education
- Adults living in higher-income households
By contrast, fewer than half of adults in the following groups in the U.S. look online for health information:
- African Americans
- Adults living with a disability
- Adults age 65 and older
- Adults with a high school education or less
- Adults living in low-income households ($30,000 or less annual income)
However, young people, Latinos, and African Americans are increasingly likely to use mobile devices to gather information, which could potentially shift the patterns among those groups when it comes to using health information resources.