New Study: Americans Find Information and Support for Healthcare Issues Online

By Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation

E-health services have often been touted as a benefit of home broadband service, and in the states/territories served by Connected Nation, an estimated 51.6 million adults use e-health applications like communicating with doctors, interacting with their insurance provider, or searching for medical information.

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The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project released an interesting report yesterday titled
Peer-to-peer healthcare that shows 18% of Internet users have looked online for others with health conditions similar to theirs. Of special note, 26% of respondents who are caring for a loved one, 23% of respondents with chronic diseases, and one-fifth of adults with disabilities said they have gone online to find others who are dealing with similar health conditions.

This inclusion of “peer to peer” health resources highlights the importance of Web 2.0 applications. Not only are Internet users passively ingesting information, but they are using social networking venues to share their own experiences. This can be an especially important to someone with a rare health condition who may not be able to find a local support group. Data from Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project shows that respondents find fellow patients, friends, and family members to be more helpful than professional sources in terms of providing emotional support for a health-related issue. Online social networking tools support patients and their caregivers not only by providing up-to-date medical information, but by providing emotional and spiritual support during stressful times.

Do you know of an online support group that deserves more attention? Let us know here so we can help get people connected.

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