One in three American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition
Thirty-five percent of 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.
These findings come from a national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Throughout this report, we call those who searched for answers on the internet “online diagnosers.”
When asked if the information found online led them to think they needed the attention of a medical professional, 46% of online diagnosers say that was the case. Thirty-eight percent of online diagnosers say it was something they could take care of at home and 11% say it was both or in-between.
When we asked respondents about the accuracy of their initial diagnosis, they reported:
- 41% of online diagnosers say a medical professional confirmed their diagnosis. An additional 2% say a medical professional partially confirmed it.
- 35% say they did not visit a clinician to get a professional opinion.
- 18% say they consulted a medical professional and the clinician either did not agree or offered a different opinion about the condition.
- 1% say their conversation with a clinician was inconclusive.
Women are more likely than men to go online to figure out a possible diagnosis. Other groups that have a high likelihood of doing so include younger people, white adults, those who live in households earning $75,000 or more, and those with a college degree or advanced degrees.