Influences, usage, and outcomes of Internet health information searching: multivariate results from the Pew surveys

Int J Med Inform. 2006 Jan;75(1):8-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2005.07.032. Epub 2005 Aug 24.


This paper provides results from seven major nationally representative datasets (two in detail) from the Pew Internet and American Life Project to answer two primary questions: (1) what influences people to seek online health information and (2) what influences their perceived outcomes from having access to this information? Cross-tabulations, logistic regressions, and multidimensional scaling are applied to these survey datasets. The strongest and most consistent influences on ever, or more frequently, using the Internet to search for health information were sex (female), employment (not fulltime), engaging in more other Internet activities, more specific health reasons (diagnosed with new health problem, ongoing medical condition, prescribed new medication or treatment), and helping another deal with health issues. Internet health seeking is consistently similar to general Internet activities such as email, news, weather, and sometimes hobbies. A variety of outcomes from or positive assessments of searching for Internet health information are predicted most strongly by sex (female), engaging in other Internet activities, Internet health information seeking including more frequent health seeking, more specific health reasons, belonging to an online support group sharing health interests, and helping another deal with an illness or major health condition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Data Collection*
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval*
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Multivariate Analysis