77% check symptoms online before seeing a doctor

April 11, 2018

Is it allergy or a cold? Is it eczema or psoriasis? When Americans have symptoms, the first authority they check with these days may be WebMD—not the family physician.

The website, founded in 1996—and today, the leading health publisher in the United States—is the source that more than three-quarters (77%) of Americans say they “always” or “sometimes” consult about maladies before seeking help from a medical professional, based on findings of a YouGov poll released on April 9.

The poll, conducted among 8,889 U.S. adults in late March, found that 27% of respondents “always” go online to investigation symptoms and 50% “sometimes” do.

Just 16% say they don’t look into what’s ailing them before visiting a doctor’s office. While a majority in each age group are likely to say they’ll go online first, those between the age of 25 and 34 (80%) and between 45 and 54 (81%) are the most likely to say so.

The likelihood of “always” doing so decreases with age. In fact, just 18% of U.S. adults over the age of 55 say they look into their symptoms online whenever they are ill.

Fully 71% say they like WebMD and have visited the website within the past 30 days—either on their computers (16%) or on their smartphones or tablets (11%).

Research contact: Hoang.Nguyen@YouGov.com

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