Adults living with chronic disease are disproportionately offline in an online world. The internet access gap creates an online health information gap. Only 62% of adults living with chronic disease go online, compared with 81% of adults who report no chronic diseases.
Lack of internet access, not lack of interest in the topic, is the primary reason for the gap. When demographic factors are controlled, internet users living with chronic disease are slightly more likely than others to access health information online.
More than any other group, people living with chronic disease remain strongly connected to offline sources of medical assistance and advice such as health professionals, friends, family, and books. However, once they have internet access, people living with chronic disease report significant benefits from the health resources found online.
The report, “Chronic Disease and the Internet,” surveyed 2,253 adults, 36% of whom are living with chronic disease (heart conditions, lung conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer).
51% of American adults living with chronic disease have looked online for any of the health topics included in the survey, such as information about a specific disease, a certain medical procedure, or health insurance. By comparison, 66% of adults who report no chronic conditions use the internet to gather health information.