WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The debate about health
care reform may be one reason why the number of "cyberchondriacs"
in the United States increased from 154 million last year to 175
million this year, a new survey suggests.
The term "cyberchondriacs" refers to people who use the Internet
to look for information about health topics, according to the
Harris Poll telephone survey of 1,066 adults conducted between July
13 and July 18.
The survey also found that people who look for health-related
subject matter on the Internet are doing so more frequently. This
year, 32 percent of adults who are online said they search for
health information "often," compared to 22 percent last year.
Among the other findings:
- The percentage of adults who go online (79 percent) hasn't
changed significantly for several years, but the proportion who are
online and have ever used the Internet to seek health information
increased to 88 percent this year, the highest ever.
- Eighty-one percent of cyberchondriacs sought health information
online in the past month, and 17 percent went online to look for
health information 10 or more times in the last month. On average,
cyberchondriacs do so about six times a month.
- There's a high level of satisfaction with the health
information found online. Only 9 percent of cyberchondriacs said
they were somewhat or very unsuccessful, and only 8 percent said
they believe the information they found was unreliable.
- About half (51 percent) of cyberchondriacs said they have
searched for information on the Internet based on discussions with
their doctors, and 53 percent said they have discussed information
they found online with their doctors.
In 1998, the number of cyberchondriacs in the United States was
just over 50 million adults. That number increased to 117 million
The Medical Library Association offers a
guide to finding and evaluating online health