Personal health might be the only secret people don't share on the Internet

Study indicates that people are asking health-related questions online, but not answering them.

Rosemary Thackeray is a health science professor at BYU and the lead author of an online study published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research that examines the nature of health-related online searches. According to data used in the study, more than 60 percent of online users search for health advise and/or use the Internet to self-diagnose as a step in the process of seeking treatment.

But, data also shows that only a small percentage of online users post reviews or comment on the course of action and treatment they eventually used. Thackeray posits that as more people begin to offer feedback, the better the initial return of information will become.

“The inherent value of ‘social’ in social media is not being captured with online health information seeking,” Thackeray said. “Social media is still a good source of health information, but I don’t think it’s ever going to replace providers or traditional health care sources.”

But, the researchers say social media could be more valuable to all parties if more people joined in on the health discussion. Patients could become more empowered and doctors could be more aware of the public discourse around certain medical issues.

Basically, she's saying that by asking questions on the Internet, but not answering them, people are making the first part harder on themselves. Read more of Thackeray's study over at BYU.