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DaVinci Coders
February 14th, 2013 at 10:58 am

Personal Health-Tracking on the Rise

60% of U.S. adults say they track their weight, diet, or exercise routine.

A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that Seven in ten (69%) U.S. adults track a health indicator for themselves or a loved one and many say this activity has changed their overall approach to health.

 

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In all:

  • 60% of U.S. adults say they track their weight, diet, or exercise routine.
  • 33% of U.S. adults track health indicators or symptoms, like blood pressure, blood sugar, headaches, or sleep patterns.
  • 12% of U.S. adults track health indicators or symptoms for a loved one.

However, their tracking is often informal:

  • 49% of trackers say they keep track of progress “in their heads.”
  • 34% say they track the data on paper, like in a notebook or journal.
  • 21% say they use some form of technology to track their health data, such as a spreadsheet, website, app, or device.

This question allowed multiple responses, but in sum: 50% of trackers record their notes in some organized way, such as on paper or using technology, and 44% of trackers do so only in their heads.

This is the first national survey measuring health data tracking, which has been shown in clinical studies to be a tool for improving outcomes, particularly among people trying to lose weight or manage a chronic condition. The Pew Internet survey finds that:

  • 46% of trackers say that this activity has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone for whom they provide care.
  • 40% of trackers say it has led them to ask a doctor new questions or to get a second opinion from another doctor.
  • 34% of trackers say it has affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition.

About the Survey

The results reported here come from a nationwide survey of 3,014 adults living in the United States. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (1,808) and cell phone (1,206, including 624 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Interviews were done in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from August 7 to September 6, 2012. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±2.4 percentage points.

Support for this study was provided by the California HealthCare Foundation, an independent philanthropy committed to improving the way health care is delivered and financed in California.

Photo credit: Boston

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