This paper explores how US adults with chronic health conditions gather, share, and create health information, both online and offline.
The paper finds a “diagnosis difference” that is tied to several aspects of health care and technology use. For example, holding other variables constant (including age, income, education, ethnicity, and overall health status), the fact that someone has a chronic condition is independently associated with being offline.
The diagnosis difference cuts another way, too. This study provides evidence that many people with serious health concerns take their health decisions seriously—and are seriously social about gathering and sharing information, both online and offline.
Internet users living with one or more conditions are more likely than other online adults to:
- Gather information online about medical problems, treatments, and drugs.
- Consult online reviews about drugs and other treatments.
- Read or watch something online about someone else’s personal health experience.