4-Country Survey Finds Most Cyberchondriacs Believe Online Health Care Information is Trustworthy, Easy to Find and Understand

Large Numbers in Germany, France, Japan and the U.S.A. Report Several Ways

That the Internet has Influenced Their Behavior

Jun 11, 2002, 01:00 ET from Harris Interactive

    ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Most adults in all four countries
 who participated in a recent Harris Interactive(SM) survey of
 "cyberchondriacs" (people who use the Internet for health purposes) find
 online health care information to be trustworthy, of good quality, easy to
 understand and easy to find.  In some cases, these majorities are very large.
 Fully, 93% of cyberchondriacs in the United States (U.S.A.) and France find
 online health information to be trustworthy.  Large majorities of American
 cyberchondriacs think it is easy to understand (85%) and is of good quality
 (82%).  The French and Germans also give Internet-based health information
 very positive marks.  Japanese cyberchondriacs are a little more skeptical,
 but fully, 56% of them find it easy to understand, 59% believe it is of good
 quality, and 80% think it is trustworthy.
     To view the complete tables and graphs for this survey, go to
 http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/newsletters_healthcare.asp for a
 downloadable pdf file of issue 12 of the Harris Interactive Health Care News
     General impact of the Internet on patients
     Approximately half of all cyberchondriacs in France (49%) and Germany
 (50%) believe that the Internet has had a major impact in their understanding
 of their health problems.  Approximately a third of those in the U.S.A. (34%)
 and Japan (30%) believe this.  Substantial minorities report that online
 health information has had a major impact on:
      * Discussions they have with their doctors (from 33% in Germany to 17% in
      * How well they manage their health (from 24% in Germany and Japan to 16%
        in the U.S.A.);
      * How they comply with their treatments (from 19% in Germany to 13% in
     American cyberchondriacs seem to be more influenced than those in the
 other three countries by things they see on the Internet.
     Impact of the Internet on patient behavior
     Americans are the most likely to have discussed information from the
 Internet with their doctors (38%), to have taken over-the-counter medication
 (23%), to have asked a doctor for a specific prescription drug (14%), to have
 made a doctor's appointment (14%) or to have started an alternative treatment
 (9%) -- as a direct result of something they saw on the Internet.
     Likely future impact on doctor-patient relationships
     There are those who worry that as the public increasingly uses and gets
 more information from the Internet, the doctor-patient relationship will
 erode.  While this is possible, very few people -- in all four countries --
 expect this to happen.  Only in Japan (10%) is this anticipated by more than
 one cyberchondriac in twenty.
     Most people, between 51% in Japan and 68% in Germany, think the Internet
 will not change their relationships with their doctors.  Large minorities,
 from 29% in Germany to 44% in France think their use of the Internet will
 actually improve their relationships.  If they are right, the Internet will
 bring more patients and doctors closer together than will drive them apart.
     "Cyberchondriacs" -- is it a pejorative?
     Since we first began using the word "cyberchondriacs," we have been asked
 if it is a pejorative, which implies that they are obsessive or unusual.  It
 is not.
     The word "chondria," literally meaning stomach, was used in classical
 Greek to mean "concern about health."  The English word hypochondria means
 excessive (hypo) concern about health.  Cyberchondria means, therefore,
 "online concern about health" and implies no criticism.
     Harris Interactive release part three of this four-nation study in the
 next issue of Health Care News.  The study is mainly based on research
 conducted online in January 2002 with 309 cyberchondriacs in the United
 States, 327 in France, 407 in Germany and 275 in Japan.
     About Harris Interactive(SM)
     Harris Interactive (http://www.harrisinteractive.com) is a worldwide
 market research and consulting firm best known for The Harris Poll(R) and its
 pioneering use of the Internet to conduct scientifically accurate market
 research.  We combine the power of unique methodologies and technology with
 international expertise in predictive, custom and strategic research.
 Headquartered in Rochester, NY, with offices across the United States, in the
 United Kingdom, in Japan and a global network of local market and opinion
 research firms, the Company conducts international research with fluency in
 multiple languages.  EOE M/F/D/V
     To become a member of the Harris Poll Online(SM) and be invited to
 participate in future online surveys, visit http://www.harrispollonline.com.
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SOURCE Harris Interactive