November 10, 2012

Health On-The-Go

People have been using the Internet to access health information for many years. The relatively recently widespread adoption of the smartphone puts the Internet in our pocket. Therefore, it only stands to reason that people would begin using their smartphones to access similar health information on-the-go. According to a recent survey from the Pew Internet group, this is exactly how many adults are looking up information about their health. In a survey to understand the role between our mobile lifestyles and our health, Pew Internet has found that adults have used their phones before to look up health information, but fewer get this same information via smartphone application or text message.

To begin with, the Pew survey confirms what we’ve known for quite a while: The smartphone is booming. According to their survey, 85% of American adults have a cell phone, while half of these own a smartphone. Amongst all the other benefits smartphones can offer their users, they also make it easier to access health information when the need arises.

Nearly a third of all cell phone users, 31%, have used their phone at some point to access health advice or information. This number has grown compared to a similar survey conducted just 2 years ago, where only 17% of cell phone owners used their devices to find this information.

Smartphone users, on the other hand, are more likely to look up this kind of information. According to the survey, more than half (52%) of all smartphone owners used their devices to find health information. The survey also found African American, college graduates, Latinos and those aged 18-49 are more likely to seek out this information on their mobile device.

According to the Pew survey, it would appear as if adults prefer to do their research completely on their own, without having it sent to them via text or application. For instance, the survey found another less-than-shocking trend: 80% of all cell phone owners send receive text messages. However, only 9% of these users say they receive updates about their health or other health related issues in this manner. Those who do look for health information via text are more likely to be women between the ages of 30 and 64, says Pew.

The number of smartphone toters who use an app to receive this information is a little larger, with 19% of smartphone users accessing an app in order to find out information about health and wellness. According to the survey, 19% of these smartphone users have at least one health-related app. The most common type of health-related app, of course, fall in the exercise, diet and weight monitoring category.

To conduct their study, Pew Internet group took to the phones and interviewed more than 3,000 American adults on cell phones and landlines. Interestingly, most of these participants in this survey about cell phones were interviewed on landlines. While cell phones and smartphones do offer more options when it comes to looking up information about our health and wellness, it’s still easier to conduct surveys on a landline phone?

Image Credit: Christos Georghiou / Shutterstock

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