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Keywords: Social support, social media, patient organizations, patient associations, virtual communities, e-patient, patient-physician communication.
Citation: O’Malley K. Pew Internet report on “peer-to-peer healthcare.” J Participat Med. 2011 Mar 2; 3:e11.
Published: March 2, 2011.
Competing Interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist.

This week, the Pew Internet Project posted the findings of a study, “Peer-to-peer Healthcare,” conducted in collaboration with the California HealthCare Foundation. As the title suggests, the highlight of the study is the fact that 18% of internet users have gone online to find peers with similar health concerns. For those living with chronic or rare diseases, the number jumps to 23%. However, the results also show that, when attempting to arrive at a diagnosis, most people turn to health professionals.

The report, which can be viewed or downloaded at, was written by Susannah Fox, Pew Internet’s Associate Director. For readers who are short on time, the report opens with a three-page Summary of Findings. The full report gives the details of the study’s rationale, methodology, and findings. It includes the specific questions asked in the study’s online and telephone surveys, and breakdowns of responses by factors such as age group, caregiver status, and health status.

This report will be of interest to both professionals and laypeople who are curious about how social media have impacted health care.

Copyright: © 2011 Kathleen O’Malley. Published here under license by The Journal of Participatory Medicine. Copyright for this article is retained by the author, with first publication rights granted to the Journal of Participatory Medicine. All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. By virtue of their appearance in this open-access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings.