One-in-Six British Columbians Rely Solely on “Doctor Internet”

Women are more likely than men to search online for information on nutrition, exercise or weight control.

Vancouver, BC [September 5, 2018] – Many British Columbians are going online to seek information about health, but one-in-six are doing so without the added benefit of a visit to the doctor, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of British Columbians, 16% of residents acknowledge they went online to diagnose or treat a medical condition on their own, without consulting a doctor, over the past year.

Two thirds of British Columbians (68%) have searched online for information about a particular illness or condition over the past year.

There are some differences among specific demographic groups on what exactly residents are looking for online.

While 41% of British Columbians have sought information about prescription drugs online over the past year, the proportion climbs to 49% among those aged 55 and over.

More than half of women in British Columbia (54%) have searched online for information about nutrition, exercise and weight control, compared to just 41% of men in the province.

Across British Columbia, 23% of residents have sought information about mental health online, including 32% of those aged 18-to-34.

Millennials are also more likely to have searched online for information about sexual health (33%, compared to the provincial average of 18%).

More than a third of British Columbians (35%) have gone online to gather information before and after visiting their doctor,

“There is a generational gap when it comes to British Columbians who combine information from the Internet with a trip to the general practitioner,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Millennials are more likely to conduct research before they see their doctor, while Baby Boomers are more likely to go online after their visit.”

One-in-five British Columbians (22%) have sought information online about alternative or experimental treatments or medicines over the past year, including 35% in Northern BC.

Results are based on an online study conducted from August 13 to August 14, 2018, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our full data set here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:
Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.