Who Uses Mobile Apps to Get Health Information?
A new survey finds substantial numbers of consumers use their cell phones to find health information. The Pew Internet & American Life Project commissioned Princeton Survey Research Associates, which conducted telephone interviews with 3,014 U.S. adults from August 7 to Sept. 6. Here are some of the findings.
Eighty-five percent of surveyed adults own a mobile phone and of those, 53% own a smartphone. Thirty-one percent of all mobile phone owners have used the device to look for health information, compared with 17% in a similar survey two years ago.
Most demographic groups reported significant increases during the past two years in using their phones to get health information. The exceptions were those who are over age 65 or did not complete high school. In addition, devices matter: While 52% of smartphone users have looked for health information with their device, only 6% of cell phone users have done so.
Caregivers, those with a recent medical crisis, and those experiencing a recent change in their health status, such as becoming pregnant or quitting smoking, are most likely to use mobile devices to find health information.
Eighty percent of all surveyed respondents send and receive text messages, but use of mobile devices for getting text updates or alerts about health isnt high. Nine percent of smartphone users get such texts, compared with 6% of cell phone users.
Eighty-four percent of surveyed smartphone owners have downloaded some type of app to their phone; 19% have downloaded at least one app to track or manage health. Women, those under age 50 or with some college education, and those with household income above $75,000 are more likely to have downloaded a health app.
Twenty-one percent of African-American smartphone users have a health care app compared with 19% of Caucasian users and 15% of Hispanic users. From $30,000 in household income and above, the percentage of all smartphone users with a health app varies by 2%, but only 14% of those earning less than $30,000 have an app.
Education also plays a big role in using a smartphone to track or manage health. Only 11% of high school graduates do such tracking, compared with 24% for those with some college and 22% with degrees.
Tracking exercise (38%), diet (31%) and weight (12%) are the most popular downloaded health apps. Other common apps track menstrual cycles, blood pressure, pregnancy, blood sugar or diabetes, and medications.
The Pew report, Mobile Health 2012, is available at www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_MobileHealth2012.pdf
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