Blog | Thursday, August 21, 2008

The well-informed patient

In 2007, 56% of U.S. adults sought info about a health concern from a source other than their doctor, according to a new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change. That's up from 38% in 2001. This, of course, corresponds with a rise in the use of the Internet as a source of info (from 16% in 2001 to 32% in 2007).

The more education a person has, the more likely she is to seek information on her own, the study found. Women are more likely than men, younger folks are more likely than older, whites and African Americans are more likely than Hispanics, and people with higher incomes are more likely than those with the lowest incomes. None of which is too terribly surprising.

The majority of these folks reported that getting information on their own was a positive thing, because it helped them to understand their own health concerns. I'd really be interested to hear how doctors view this trend. Does it add to the workload and stretch the 15-minute visit, if a patient comes in with a laundry list of ailments printed from the Internet? Has a patient ever helped a doctor focus in on a diagnosis, or brought symptoms to light that might have gone undetected, thanks to the patient's research?