"Cyberchondriacs" on the Rise?

Those who go online for healthcare information continues to increase

New York, N.Y. - August 4, 2010 - The latest Harris Poll, measuring how many people use the Internet to look for information about health topics, finds that the numbers continue to increase. The Harris Poll first used the word Cyberchondriacs to describe these people in 1998, when just over 50 million American adults had ever gone online to look for health information. By 2005, that number had risen to 117 million. In the new poll, the number of Cyberchondriacs has jumped to 175 million from 154 million last year, possibly as a result of the health care reform debate. Furthermore, frequency of usage has also increased. Fully 32% of all adults who are online say they look for health information "often," compared to 22% last year.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 1,066 adults surveyed by telephone between July 13 and 18, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

Other findings in the new Harris Poll include:

  • While the percentage of adults who go online (79%) has not changed significantly for several years, the proportion of those who are online and have ever used the Internet to look for health information has increased to 88% this year, the highest number ever.
  • Fully 81% of all Cyberchondriacs have looked for health information online in the last month. And 17% have gone online to look for health information ten or more times in the last month. On average, Cyberchondriacs do this about 6 times a month.
  • Very few Cyberchondriacs are dissatisfied with their ability to find what they want online. Only 9% report that they were somewhat (6%) or very (3%) unsuccessful. And only 8% believe that the information they found was unreliable.
  • Just over half (53%) of all Cyberchondriacs report that they have discussed information they found online with their doctors.
  • Half (51%) of all Cyberchondriacs say they have searched for information on the Internet based on discussions with their doctors.

So what?
These findings show that, with every passing year, more and more people are using the Internet to look for health information and that the overwhelming majority of these Cyberchondriacs are finding what they want online.

This Harris Poll® was conducted by telephone within the United States between July 13 and 18, 2010 among 1,066 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Q705, 710, 715, 720, 725, 730

The Harris Poll® #95, August 4, 2010
By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.