Thursday, March 25, 2010

Adding social media to the medicine cabinet

People fighting chronic illnesses are less likely than others to have Internet access (62% vs. 81%), but once online they are more likely to blog or participate in online discussions about health problems, according to a report released March 24 by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation.

"Once online, having a chronic disease increases the probability that someone will take advantage of social media to share what they know and learn from their peers," the study found.

Still, people living with chronic disease remain strongly connected to offline sources of medical assistance and advice:
  • 93% of adults living with chronic disease ask a health professional for information or assistance in dealing with health or medical issues.
  • 60% ask a friend or family member.
  • 56% use books or other printed reference material.
  • 44% use the internet.
  • 38% contact their insurance provider.
  • 6% use another source not mentioned in the list.
Looking at the population as a whole, 51% of American adults living with chronic disease have looked online for any of the health topics included in the survey, such as information about a specific disease, a certain medical procedure, prescription or over-the-counter drugs, or health insurance.

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