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Majority of US adults track their health data

But just one in five uses technology to do so

A clear majority of people in the US tracks a health indicator, either for themselves or a loved one, according to the first national survey of health data tracking.

The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found that 69 per cent of US adults track health data in this way, and many feel that doing so has changed their approach to health.

But despite the popularity of online healthcare resources, the research reveals that most of the tracking is done informally, with few of those questioned using any form of technology.

In fact of those who track health indicators or symptoms, almost half (49 per cent) said they do so “in their heads”, while 34 per cent use paper records such as a notebook or journal.

When it comes to using technology, 21 per cent of health trackers use tools like a spreadsheet, website or app to keep a record.

The research was structured to allow multiple responses, but in total 50 per cent of people who track their health record their notes in an organised way, such as on paper or by using technology. Meanwhile, 44 per cent of health trackers do so only in their heads.

When it came to the kinds of areas people were tracking Pew's research found:

• 60 per cent of US adults track their weight, diet, or exercise routine

• 33 per cent track health indicators or symptoms, like blood pressure, blood sugar, headaches, or sleep patterns

• 12 per cent track health indicators or symptoms for a loved one

The survey also found that 46 per cent of health trackers felt the activity had changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone for whom they provide care.

It also revealed that 40 per cent asked their doctor new questions, or sought a second opinion from another doctor, as a result of their health tracking, and 34 per cent said it had affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition.

The results were drawn from a national telephone survey of 3,014 adults living in the US that was conducted between August and September 2012.

30th January 2013

From: Healthcare

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