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Consumer Use of the Internet for Health
Whose Numbers Do You Believe?

On March 16, 2003, the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) released a study that disputed widely-held beliefs-based on other studies-that most Americans rely on the Internet for health information. According to the study1, nearly two-thirds (62%) of American adults, or about 117 million people, failed to seek any health information from a source other than their doctor in the previous year and only one in six consumers turned to the Internet for health information (16%, or 30 million adults).

Other studies, including Cybercitizen Health (Manhattan Research) and The Harris Poll (Harris Interactive), report much higher numbers ranging from 63 million adults to 110 million adults (see table). Mark Bard, president of Manhattan Research, wryly notes, "As in many situations, the truth may lie in between." Coincidently, that's exactly where results from his research lie (63 million adults)!

So, whose numbers do you believe? Which study should you quote when making a case to pharmaceutical product managers to integrate the Internet into their marketing strategy? This article provides some useful analysis of the various studies and will help you determine which reigns supreme.

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PMN23-02
Issue: Vol. 2, No. 3: March 2003

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