Between the doc and pharmacy, patients get online, says survey

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Just 35% of the individuals surveyed by About.com in June said they would fill a prescription on doctor's orders after a diagnosis, without first doing research online.

Forty-seven percent said they would use a search engine to find more information about their specific condition, and a combined 36% said they would either go to a specific health website for more condition-related information (20%), or use a search engine to compare different treatment options (16%), according to the survey.

When asked what kinds of advertising grabs their attention, 29% of the surveyed respondents chose “information about a certain condition (sign, symptom, etc.),” with 28% pointing to information about medication side effects and safety, as an attention-grabber. Information about how to cope with a condition (20%) and free trial information (18%) registered slightly lower.

A majority of respondents to the survey said that after seeing an ad, they either spoke with their doctor (38%) or researched the drug in more detail online (36%). Less than 20% of the respondents spoke to friends or family for recommendations about the drug, visited the pharmaceutical company's website, or asked their doctor for a sample or script.

Erica McDonald, a spokesperson for About.com Health, said the survey looked specifically at healthcare ads online, as opposed to ads appearing in other media.

About.com's Health Site Intercept Study surveyed opt-in participants over three days in early June 2009, with a final participation number of 1,870. Respondents visiting three of About.com's channels – parenting, health and food – were invited via pop-up to participate in the survey.


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