The most searched-for health topics of the year, and the most common “symptoms” people looked for —

45% of U.S. adults report living with one or more chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but also less common conditions like lupus and cancer. Our new report provides a demographic portrait of these people, and explores how they gather, share, and create health information, both online and offline. http://pewrsr.ch/184SZ2S

The Who, What, Where, When & Why of Health Care Social Media: Health/tech expert Susannah Fox discussing the intersection of internet/tech/social media + health.

Young people are a target group for online health exchanges. 95% use the internet, 36% do not have insurance.

Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. adults (39%) are caring for an adult or child with significant health issues, according to our new report out today. That’s up from 30% in 2010.
36% of U.S. adults say they provided unpaid care to an adult in the past year, up from 27% in 2010. 
Who are these caregivers? How are they using tech to help provide care? Answers in new report: http://pewrsr.ch/17pjIM4

Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. adults (39%) are caring for an adult or child with significant health issues, according to our new report out today. That’s up from 30% in 2010.

36% of U.S. adults say they provided unpaid care to an adult in the past year, up from 27% in 2010. 

Who are these caregivers? How are they using tech to help provide care? Answers in new report: http://pewrsr.ch/17pjIM4

Stanford Medical Student Joyce Ho interviews Susannah Fox about her report, “Tracking for Health.”

Seven in ten (69%) U.S. adults track a health indicator for themselves or a loved one and many say this activity has changed their overall approach to health. In all:

  • 60% of U.S. adults say they track their weight, diet, or exercise routine.
  • 33% of U.S. adults track health indicators or symptoms, like blood pressure, blood sugar, headaches, or sleep patterns.
  • 12% of U.S. adults track health indicators or symptoms for a loved one.

However, their tracking is often informal:

  • 49% of trackers say they keep track of progress “in their heads.”
  • 34% say they track the data on paper, like in a notebook or journal.
  • 21% say they use some form of technology to track their health data, such as a spreadsheet, website, app, or device.

Read the full report: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Tracking-for-Health.aspx

From our new report: Health Online 2013

One in three U.S. adults say that at one time or another they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. And yet medical professionals are still most people’s top choice when they are dealing with a serious health concern.

“Online health information is available day or night, at no cost, and the internet has become a de facto second opinion for many people,” says Susannah Fox, an associate director of the Project and lead author of the report. “The open search box invites people to begin their journey toward better health, but this study shows that the internet is just one piece of the puzzle. Clinicians are still central.”

Read more in the full report: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Health-online.aspx

Disability in the Digital Age

According to a September 2010 survey by Pew Internet, nearly three in 10 American adults (27%) live with a disability that inhibits their daily functioning. Individuals who identified a disability use the internet at lower rates than those who did not report disabilities, Pew Internet data also demonstrates (54% vs. 81%).

Here’s a detailed look at people living with disability in the U.S. — their demographic profile, technology status, and use of the internet for health information (slide deck).

(Source: pewinternet.org)

"When my child was diagnosed, I left everything and turned to research this disease. I promised myself that my life would be driven by efforts to make my child’s life normal and to give my child tools for handling these handicaps in a positive way. So far, so good. He has the tools, he lives life to the fullest. He is married and totally independent of me. Though he lives hundreds of miles away, he knows I am standing behind him, and when he needs help, I am there in a nano-second."

As part of the research for our report on family caregivers online, we asked members of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) to write short essays about their use of the internet in caring for themselves or for their loved ones. This mother described how she stepped up to the challenge.

(Source: pewinternet.org)

"[Caregivers] are creating the tools that they need, just as hackers create the tools that they need."

— Susannah Fox, in GigaOM’s article on our new report

(Source: gigaom.com)

30% of U.S. adults provide support to a loved one. The internet is a key information and communications resource for this front-line labor force.
Fully 79% of caregivers have access to the internet. Of those, 88% look online for health information. They outpace other internet users when it comes to researching every health topic included in Pew Internet’s surveys, often by double-digit margins.
This and more in our new report out today on family caregivers and their use of the internet. Have you ever used the internet to provide support for a loved one?

30% of U.S. adults provide support to a loved one. The internet is a key information and communications resource for this front-line labor force.

Fully 79% of caregivers have access to the internet. Of those, 88% look online for health information. They outpace other internet users when it comes to researching every health topic included in Pew Internet’s surveys, often by double-digit margins.

This and more in our new report out today on family caregivers and their use of the internet. Have you ever used the internet to provide support for a loved one?

Peer-to-peer Healthcare: Crazy. Crazy. Crazy. Obvious.

Patients and caregivers know things — about themselves, about each other, about treatments — and they want to share what they know to help other people. Technology helps to surface and organize that knowledge to make it useful for as many people as possible.

This 5-minute excerpt of Susannah Fox’s Medicine 2.0’11 keynote gives an overview of the concept of peer-to-peer health care.

(Source: pewinternet.org)

"It occurred to me that if Uncle Burt went online, for the first time in his life he could have relationships that were not limited by his disabilities. I was able to put him in touch with some of my friends and he communicated with some people who shared his affection for the soap opera, “Days of Our Lives.” And then, when the web first started, I tried out new search engines with arcane terms like “Moebius Syndrome” and one day, I got a hit. … And Uncle Burt heard for the first time that there were other people like him. For the last year of his life, he was the elder statesman of a very small but very excited community and it would not have been possible without the web."

The internet’s impact on one man’s life — another great commentary by our Susannah Fox, as recounted to her by Nell Minow.

Read the full story

"The most important source of information for people making a day-to-day health decision, in many cases, is not a website, or even a clinician, but another person who shares the same condition. As mobile, social tools spread throughout the population, people are connecting with each other. Why not harness those tools for health?"

Pew Internet & American Life Project Associate Director of Digital Strategy Susannah Fox presented the project’s data on communities of color and young people, particularly as it relates to health, twice this week — On Wednesday as a guest of the Federal HIV/AIDS Web Council and on Thursday as a speaker at a meeting convened by CommonHealth ACTION. She wrapped up her insights here.

Fast facts:

  • 83% of U.S. adults own a cell phone.
  • 35% of U.S. adults own a smartphone and one-quarter of them use their phone as their main source of internet access.
  • This trend is especially pronounced among adults ages 18-29, adults who identify as black, and adults who identify as Latino.
  • Text messaging is an epidemic among 18-24 year-olds. This group sends or receives an average of 109.5 text messages PER DAY.