[Originally posted by Maureen Weicher, February 12, 2008, @ 8:58 am]

There is a new study by iCrossing, a digital marketing company, called “How America Searches: Health and Wellness“. According to the study more people use the Internet to obtain health information over a given year than consult a doctor, with general search engines being the most popular gateway. It also found that people are predominantly using the Internet to research symptoms or specific medical conditions.

How might this apply to our students? The study found that young adults are the most likely demographic to use the Internet for health information and they use it the most frequently. They are also more likely to use social media such as Wikipedia or message boards. Wellness information, such as nutrition, exercise, and weight loss, is an area that especially attracts 18 to 24 year olds.

If you find the idea of “Dr Web” frightening, the study did find that people ultimately place their trust in physicians rather than the Internet when making medical decisions. Fortunately, this recent study from the journal Cancer discovered that websites contain overwhelmingly accurate information.