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Mobile health has found its market: smartphone owners

According to The Pew Internet & American Life Project, in conjunction with Princeton Survey Research, 85% of U.S. adults own a cell phone, and 31% of them have used their phone to look for health information. Two years ago, only 17% of cell phone owners had used their phones to look for health advice.

Smartphone owners lead this activity: 52% gather health information on their phones, compared with 6% of non-smartphone owners. Cell phone owners who are Latino, African American, between the ages of 18-49, or hold a college degree are also more likely to gather health information this way.

80% of cell phone owners say they send and receive text messages, but just 9% of cell phone owners say they receive any text updates or alerts about health or medical issues. Women, those between the ages of 30 and 64, and smartphone owners are more likely than other cell phone owners to have signed up for health text alerts.

Smartphones enable the use of mobile software applications to help people track or manage their health. Some 19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone. Exercise, diet, and weight apps are the most popular types. Mobile health continues to climb in popularity, especially among smartphone owners.

Among all cell phone owners, some demographic groups are more likely than others to look for health information on their phones: Latinos, African Americans, those between the ages of 18 and 49, and college graduates.

Mobile health information also seems to appeal to certain groups of health consumers: caregivers, people who went through a recent medical crisis, and those who experienced a recent, significant change in their physical health such as gaining or losing a lot of weight, becoming pregnant, or quitting smoking.
Nearly all demographic groups report significant increases in this activity, with the exception of those over 65 and those who did not complete high school. A few groups stand out: cell phone owners who are African American, college graduates, women, those with an annual household income between $50,000 and $74,999, and those between the ages of 3049. Smartphone ownership has greatly increased over the last two years and no doubt had an effect on this trend.

Text messaging is a nearly universal activity, especially among younger cell phone owners, but it has not yet had a significant impact on the health market. 80% of cell phone owners say they send and receive text messages, but just 9% of cell phone owners say they receive any text updates or alerts about health or medical issues.
Source, all data: Pew Internet/CHCF Health Survey, August 7September 6, 2012. N=3,014 adults ages 18+. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish, on landline and cell phones. 

For additional information and the PDF file, please visit PewInternet here.

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