The internet is often used for medical advice
Eighty percent of internet users, or 59 percent of US web surfers, have searched online for health advice and information, whether on a specific disease, hospital or doctor, environmental hazard or food recalls.
A study of more than 3000 Americans found that one in three people said the internet enabled them to make their own medical decisions although the study did say the Web is not a substitute for a doctor.
It was also discovered that blogs were a popular source of information for people wanting to learn about other people’s experiences with 34 percent of internet users reading someone else’s commentary on a health issue.
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When asked about their last interaction with a healthcare professional, 70 percent of people said they had consulted a doctor although 65 percent of people said the interaction occurred online.
The study was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International also found that three percent of people said that they, or someone they knew, was harmed by following medical advice they found online.
Eleven percent of social network users had posted information on medical or health matters on such websites and nine percent has joined a health related group on a social network.
"Social network sites are popular, but used only sparingly for health updates and queries," said the study.