How does searching for health information on the Internet affect individuals' demand for health care services?
The emergence of the Internet made health information, which previously was almost exclusively available to health professionals, accessible to the general public. Access to health information on the Internet is likely to affect individuals' health care related decisions. The aim of this analysis is to determine how health information that people obtain from the Internet affects their demand for health care. I use a novel data set, the U.S. Health Information National Trends Survey (2003–07), to answer this question. The causal variable of interest is a binary variable that indicates whether or not an individual has recently searched for health information on the Internet. Health care utilization is measured by an individual's number of visits to a health professional in the past 12 months. An individual's decision to use the Internet to search for health information is likely to be correlated to other variables that can also affect his/her demand for health care. To separate the effect of Internet health information from other confounding variables, I control for a number of individual characteristics and use the instrumental variable estimation method. As an instrument for Internet health information, I use U.S. state telecommunication regulations that are shown to affect the supply of Internet services. I find that searching for health information on the Internet has a positive, relatively large, and statistically significant effect on an individual's demand for health care. This effect is larger for the individuals who search for health information online more frequently and people who have health care coverage. Among cancer patients, the effect of Internet health information seeking on health professional visits varies by how long ago they were diagnosed with cancer. Thus, the Internet is found to be a complement to formal health care rather than a substitute for health professional services.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
Issue (Month): 10 ()
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description|
|Order Information:|| Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2003. "Cluster-Sample Methods in Applied Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 133-138, May.
- Richard B. Smith, 2005. "An Alternative Perspective On Information Asymmetry; Implications For Consumer Authority In Physician Services Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(3), pages 665-699, 09.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:10:p:1828-1835. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.