Searching Online for Health Information

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

Internet activities go beyond using it to check your email, making online purchases, managing your online banking, playing games or updating your status in the social networking circles.

80% of internet users search online for health information.

According to Pew Internet and American Life Project: [Source]

  • 85% of U.S. adults use the internet.
  • 85% of U.S. adults own a cell phone, 53% of whom own Smartphones.
  • 80% of internet users or 59% of U.S. adults look online for health information.
  • 31% of cell phone owners and 52% of Smartphone owners have used their phone to look up health or medical information.
  • 66% of internet users look online for information about a specific disease or medical problem.

The most commonly searched topics are:

  • Specific diseases or conditions–66% of internet users look online for information about a specific disease or medical problem.
  • Treatments or procedures–56% of internet users look online for information about a certain medical treatment or procedure.
  • Doctors or other health professionals-44% of internet users look online for information about doctors or other health professionals.

To help you identify which health topics are being searched for online from a popular health and wellness social media platform, we asked, created by Jeff Arnold (founder WebMD) and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Here is a list of the top 20 most searched health topics on for 2012:

  1. Diet and Nutrition
  2. Wellness
  3. Dental and Oral Health
  4. Skin and Nail
  5. Beauty and Personal Care
  6. Heart and Circulatory System
  7. Pharmacology
  8. Digestive Health
  9. Fitness and Exercise
  10. Cancer
  11. Infectious Disease
  12. Alternative Medicine
  13. Health Care Basics
  14. Pain
  15. Bone Joint and Muscle
  16. Brain and Nervous System
  17. Mental Health
  18. Endocrine System
  19. Women’s Health
  20. Diabetes

Your turn

What  type of health information do you search for online?  What are some of the health topics?  Which health sites do you favor?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. As always, thank you for your valuable time.

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Full Disclosure–Barbara Ficarra is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board, health educator and health advisor at



Pew Internet & American Life Project, Commentary: Pew Internet Health by Susannah Fox, Nov 13, 2012

Pew Internet & American Life Project, Health Topics by Susannah Fox, Feb 1, 2011


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