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June 23/30, 2004

Health-Related Searches on the Internet

JAMA. 2004;291(24):2946. doi:10.1001/jama.291.24.2946

To the Editor: There is ongoing uncertainty about how often consumers use the Internet to search for health-related information. For instance, although a 2000 survey found that 55% of individuals with Internet access have used the Web to find health or medical information,1 Phillipov and Phillips2 reported that 17 health-related search terms they found in the first 300 search terms of the Wordtracker Top 500 keyword report comprised fewer than 1% of all queries. It is possible, however, that people may use many different health-related keywords that are so rare that they never appear on the Top 500 Keywords list. To address this, we analyzed a random sample of search terms entered into a search engine over a longer period of time.

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