Seeking Health Care Information: Most Consumers Still on the Sidelines

Publication Date: March 2003

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Ha T. Tu; J. Lee Hargraves

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


Contrary to popular belief that Americans avidly seek health information—especially on the Internet—a majority of Americans in 2001 sought no information about a health concern, according to a Center for Studying Health Systems Change (HSC) study. And, instead of surfing the Internet, the 38 percent of Americans who did obtain health information relied more often on traditional sources such as books or magazines. People living with chronic conditions were more likely to seek information, yet more than half did not. Education is key to explaining differences among people. Those with a college degree are twice as likely to seek health information as people without a high school diploma. As consumers are confronted with more responsibility for making trade-offs among the cost, quality and accessibility of care, credible and understandable information will be critical to empowering consumers to take active roles in managing their care.