World Internet Project quantifies online health seekers

About a quarter of all Australians seek health information from the Internet, new research has revealed.

The World Internet Project – the first ever global survey of Internet usage – found 23.7 per cent of Australians went online seeking health information at least once a month, with 13.4 per cent using the Internet to search for health-related information on a weekly basis.

The World Internet Project brought together university researchers from across the globe to track the online habits of Internet users in countries including Australia, Canada, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

Researchers Professor Julian Thomas and Professor Scott Ewing from Swinburne University in Melbourne led the Australian arm of the project.

Professor Ewing said the results showed “very large percentages” of Internet users go online regularly for information about health topics.

And he said users in other countries also went online to track down health information.

“Internet use to look for health information at least monthly is particularly high in Urban China and Israel,” he said.

The research also showed 24 per cent of Australians aged between 18-29 were more likely to look up health information on a regular basis, while the majority of those aged over 50 would only look for health information less than once a month (36.3 per cent).

But the research also found 34.6 per cent of Australians did not use the Internet to look for health related information, with 40.7 per cent of participants aged 18-29 claiming they would never use the Internet to look for health information.

The researchers expect the statistics would change over time, as more people begin to use the Internet as an information source.

“This is the first time there has been a comprehensive survey that has allowed a detailed comparison of Internet use in different countries,” Professor Thomas said.

“As the years go by, I have no doubt the results will change dramatically.

More information on the report can be found at: http://www.cci.edu.au/post/first-world-internet-project-report-released.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Comments   

# Ward Levingston 2009-01-20 10:28
Depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty it may be a relief or a concern that "a majority of users believe only half of the information they find online is reliable".

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