83 percent of Internet users have looked for health or medical information online, according to 2009 research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. New research, released by Pew on Monday, shows that the use of cell phones to look up health or medical information is growing: 17 percent of American adults have used their phones to look up health or medical information. In fact, nearly one in 10 American adults have health apps on their phone, allowing them to count calories, track physical activity, and even check someone’s heartbeat.
The Internet allows us to seek health information much more frequently than we are able to speak to our doctors. Research from web monitoring and research firm Synthesio showed that health is the most talked about topic online, with 14% of online conversations centered on health. So what exactly are we searching for online? And do mobile searches differ from traditional Internet searches?
This morning, CNN Health posted an article highlighting Google and Yahoo!’s most popular health-related searches. Top search terms included herpes, pregnancy, depression, heart disease and breast cancer.
Perhaps more interesting than the terms themselves were the behaviors that the searches demonstrate. Sex-related queries were much more frequent among mobile searchers than traditional internet searchers. Researchers hypothesized that this could be because mobile health searchers tend to be in their 20s and 30s, the typical age for pregnancy. Could it also be because we are more confident of our privacy when searching using a phone rather than say, a work computer?