Use of Health Information Technology* Among Adults

I found this very interesting information bit at the CDC MMWR (see the message below and the graphics). It’s quite obvious that most people surveyed actually “browsed” information rather than interact with the system in some way. The graphic drawn from a large systematic survey tells me that there is at least a 40 percentage point gap between browsing for information and “actually” making use of that information when it comes to health behaviour. 

What explains this?

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QuickStats: Use of Health Information Technology* Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years — National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), United States, 2009 and 2011†

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The figure shows use of health information technology among adults aged ≥18 years in the United States, during 2009 and 2011. Between 2009 and 2011, increases were noted in the proportion of adults aged ≥18 years who used the Internet to fill a prescription (5.9% to 7.1%), schedule an appointment with a health-care provider (2.6% to 4.5%), and communicate with a health-care provider by e-mail (4.6% to 5.5%). The use of online chat groups to learn about health topics also increased (3.3% to 3.7%). The percentage of adults who looked up health information on the Internet did not change significantly between 2009 (45.5%) and 2011 (46.5%), but in both years, looking up health information on the Internet was seven to 14 times as likely to occur as each of the other four activities.

* Based on responses to the following question in 2009: “Have you ever used computers for any of the following? …Looked up health information on the Internet …Refilled a prescription on the Internet …Scheduled an appointment with a health-care provider using the Internet …Communicated with a health-care provider over e-mail” and “Have you ever used online chat groups to learn about health topics.” Each question was followed by an additional question asking if the respondent had performed the particular activity in the past 12 months. In a supplement to the 2011 NHIS, the questions were slightly reworded to combine the measure and period (“DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS, have you ever used computers for any of the following …Look up health information on the Internet …Fill a prescription …Schedule an appointment with a health-care provider …Communicate with a health-care provider by e-mail …Use online chat groups to learn about health topics.”).

Estimates are based on household interviews of a sample of the 2009 and 2011 civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. adult populations. Denominators for each percentage exclude adults who refused to answer or did not know.

§ 95% confidence interval.

From 2009 to 2011, increases were noted in the proportion of adults aged ≥18 years who used the Internet to fill a prescription (5.9% to 7.1%), schedule an appointment with a health-care provider (2.6% to 4.5%), and communicate with a health-care provider by e-mail (4.6% to 5.5%). The use of online chat groups to learn about health topics also increased (3.3% to 3.7%). The percentage of adults who looked up health information on the Internet did not change significantly from 2009 (45.5%) to 2011 (46.5%), but in both years, looking up health information on the Internet was seven to 14 times as likely to occur as each of the other four activities.

Source: National Health Interview Survey, 2009 and 2011 Sample Adult access to health care and utilization supplemental components.

Reported by: Robin A. Cohen, PhD, rcohen@cdc.gov, 301-458-4152; Patricia F. Adams.

Alternate Figure: The figure above shows use of health information technology among adults aged ≥18 years in the United States, during 2009 and 2011. Between 2009 and 2011, increases were noted in the proportion of adults aged ≥18 years who used the Internet to fill a prescription (5.9% to 7.1%), schedule an appointment with a health-care provider (2.6% to 4.5%), and communicate with a health-care provider by e-mail (4.6% to 5.5%). The use of online chat groups to learn about health topics also increased (3.3% to 3.7%). The percentage of adults who looked up health information on the Internet did not change significantly between 2009 (45.5%) and 2011 (46.5%), but in both years, looking up health information on the Internet was seven to 14 times as likely to occur as each of the other four activities.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.

All MMWR HTML versions of articles are electronic conversions from typeset documents. This conversion might result in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users are referred to the electronic PDF version (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr) and/or the original MMWR paper copy for printable versions of official text, figures, and tables. An original paper copy of this issue can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402-9371; telephone: (202) 512-1800. Contact GPO for current prices.

**Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to mmwrq@cdc.gov.

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