Going online for a lifeline

Nearly nine in ten caregivers with Internet access use the technology to find health information to help them with their duties. That’s a large pool of people: 30 percent of U.S. adults help someone with personal needs, household chores, finances and services.

The statistics come from the Pew Research Center, which conducted a national telephone survey conducted in September 2010. The survey was released this month.

“Caregivers are significantly more likely than other Internet users to say that their last search for health information was on behalf of someone else—67 percent vs. 54 percent,” Pew reports. “Just 29 percent of online caregivers say their last search was solely focused on their own health or medical situation, compared with 40 percent of non-caregivers who go online for health information.”

Pew defines the cohort as those caring for an adult, such as a parent or spouse. A small subset of the group cares for a child living with a disability or long-term health issue.

The center found that eight in ten caregivers (79 percent) have access to the Internet. Of those, 88 percent look online for health information, outpacing other Internet users on every health initiative included in the survey, from researching treatments to rating hospital to making end-of-life decisions.

How do you use the Internet to care for others?