Kicking off the news for the MedicCast this week is a recent study on internet health information habits. The Pew Research Center and the Pew Internet & American Life Project released information that one third of Americans have used the internet to either diagnose themselves or diagnose a health problem for a friend or relative.

Most Use Internet to Search Health Information

Internet Health Search3,000 U.S. adults were surveyed by phone about how they use the internet for health related information. In the survey results, 59% responded that they used the internet in the past to look up health information and 35% said they used that information to diagnose either themselves of someone else.

Have you ever responded to a scene and had the patient tell you they called because of information they saw online? I have. This is becoming more and more common. The good news from this survey is that many of the people who self-diagnosed, 70%, followed up their information with seeking information from a health professional. Others went to family for advice or others they knew with a similar problem.

Provide Health Resource Links

One of the things we need to work on with patients is help them to make intelligent decisions with information they find online. They are going to look up stuff online. You can’t get them to stop. So we have to respond back to them with information to make their searches safer and more responsible.

You can link to high quality health information from your own company or community website. The other is to refer them to trusted sites while talking with them and family members. Finally, you can refer them to additional information when at the hospital by alerting hospital staff of their internet curiosity and letting them pass along advice on how to search responsibly.

If you’re looking for information to put on your website or to recommend, I recently did an episode on finding quality internet health resources over on the Nursing Show. You can find that episode at I’d also love to hear back from you on any trusted online health resources you use. Shoot me an email to and let me know what you use. I look forward to hearing from you!


Check out the links to this particular news item as well as all of the news and tip links in the show notes for this week’s episode — Hyperthyroidism EMS Review and Episode 321.


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