Report

Chronic Disease and the Internet

  • March 24, 2010

U.S. adults living with chronic disease are significantly less likely than healthy adults to have access to the Internet (62% vs. 81%). The Internet access gap creates an online health information gap. However, lack of Internet access, not lack of interest in the topic, is the primary reason for the difference. Once online, having a chronic disease increases the probability that someone will take advantage of social media to share what they know and learn from their peers.

When other demographic factors are held constant, having a chronic disease significantly increases an Internet user's likelihood to say they work on a blog or contribute to an online discussion, a listserv, or other online group forum that helps people with personal issues or health problems.

Living with chronic disease is also associated, once someone is online, with a greater likelihood to access user-generated health content such as blog posts, hospital reviews, doctor reviews, and podcasts. These resources allow an Internet user to dive deeply into a health topic, using the Internet as a communications tool, not simply an information vending machine.

Read the full report Chronic Disease and the Internet on the Pew Internet & American Life Project's Web site.