Consumers increasingly turn to 'Net for Web info: study

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Elkin: pharma marketers should consider search.
Elkin: pharma marketers should consider search.

US consumers are turning to the Internet, even more so than their doctors, to research health information, according to a report from digital marketing company iCrossing.

According to the analysis, 59% of a group of 1,084 men and women aged 18 and older surveyed said they used the Internet as a resource for health and wellness-related information, while just 55% said they consulted with their physicians when they had a question.

The report, titled How America Searches: Health and Wellness, was conducted by The Opinion Research Corporation, an infoUSA research and consulting firm, for iCrossing in December.

Although consumers prefer the Net over physicians for research, docs are still the most trusted source of health info, the survey found.

When asked to identify the top three sources they trusted the most, 77% of consumers cited their primary care physicians, 55% their specialist physicians, and 37% their nurses or nurse practitioners. Only 24% listed the Internet as a top trusted source.

“Pharma marketers ought to consider channels that they hadn't before – most particularly search engines,” added iCrossing VP of strategy Noah Elkin told MM&M.

According to Elkin general search engines dominate consumer research.

The iCrossing survey found that two-thirds of online adults have used general search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN to find health related info. Meanwhile, usage of health-specific search engines such as Healia, Medstory and Healthline were minimal by comparison.

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