"Cyberchondriac" numbers stagnant: Harris Interactive

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For the first time in 10 years, the number of people seeking healthcare information online has decreased – from 160 million in 2007, to 150 million in 2008 – according to the Harris Poll.

Online healthcare seekers, referred to by Harris as “cyberchondriacs,” represent 66% of all adults in the US, and 81% of adults online, according to a company statement. In 1998, the Harris Poll counted 54 million cyberchondriacs. That number has increased every year until 2008.

“The rapid growth in the number of cyberchondriacs seems to have plateaued, but we do not know if this pause is temporary or more permanent,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, in a statement.

The Harris Poll also found that 47% of cyberchondriacs have discussed the information they obtained online with their doctors, and 49% have gone online to look for information after a doctor's appointment, according to phone survey data. Eighty-six percent reported a belief that the information they found online was reliable, and 89% said they were successful in obtaining healthcare information online.

The Harris Poll surveyed 1,010 adults by telephone within the US between July 8 and 13, 2008, according to Harris Interactive. 

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