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Pew Survey on Chronic Disease

By December 5, 2013Commentary

According to a Pew Survey of over 3000 Americans, 45% have one or more chronic conditions, with 20% reporting two or more.   (Pew Survey)  Twenty-five percent say they have high blood pressure, 13% a respiratory ailment, 11% diabetes and 7% some form of heart disease.  Health and health care can be a dominant issue in these people’s lives, with 26% of adults with 2 or more chronic conditions saying they faced a serious medical emergency in the last year.  In general, chronic disease sufferers are more likely to seek information and support from a variety of sources, including family and friends and similar patients, as well as health professionals.   Of this group with at least one chronic disease, however, 72% are internet users, compared to 89% of people with no chronic disease.  This is partly explained by the chronic disease group being older and less-educated, but even on an adjusted basis they are less likely to be internet users.  When chronic disease patients are internet users, however, they are more likely to use the internet to obtain information on medical problems and treatments and to read online reviews about medical care or medical professionals.  About 30% of this group has used the internet to “self-diagnose” and when they review their findings with a doctor, about half the time they report that the doctor agrees with their conclusion.  Internet users with a chronic disease are also more likely to use online capabilities to track weight, diet, blood pressure, blood sugar or other health related measures.  80% of people with two or more chronic conditions do so, 70% of those with one do, and only 61% of people with no chronic conditions use these online capabilities.  The report gives interesting insights into the evolution of how people use the internet to access health information, to gain support for their health needs and to share with other similar patients.

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