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Direct-to-consumer prescription drug websites for stigmatized illnesses
Unformatted Document Text:  Graber 2004) were found in the top 10 links through using popular search engines. However, these studies, like the others listed above, did not investigate the content of the prescription drug websites related to stigma information. To date, little has been known as the way DTC prescription drug websites relay disease information, especially for stigmatized diseases. Most studies have assessed informational contents on drugs, not diseases. Considering that many people turn to DTC websites seeking information about medical conditions, beyond the specific drugs, it is important to assess their educational value. To what extent DTC websites provide educational information about the diseases themselves will enable us to evaluate public benefits of such websites. Internet as a source of health information A recent 2009 reports by Pew Internet and American Life Project estimates that about six in ten (61%) of American adults are online health information seekers who use the Internet for health information (Fox and Jones 2009). Since 2002, the highest ranking health topic which adults access through the Internet is information about a specific disease or medical problem. The 49% of American adults seek for the information about a specific disease or medical problem in 2009. In this survey, adults reported that: 41% of adults seek for the information about certain medical treatment or procedure; 38% of adults use the Internet for information seeking about exercise or fitness; 33% of adults seek out information about prescription or over- the-counter drugs. In particular, some research showed that people are more likely to use the Internet for sensitive information and stigma-related information. A 2009 Pew Internet and American Life Project survey showed that the percentage of adults who look online for information about mental health issues has increased in the past years: 21% of adults for information about 6

Authors: Kang, Hannah. and An, Soontae.
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Graber 2004) were found in the top 10 links through using popular search engines. However, 
these studies, like the others listed above, did not investigate the content of the prescription drug 
websites related to stigma information.
To date, little has been known as the way DTC prescription drug websites relay disease 
information, especially for stigmatized diseases. Most studies have assessed informational 
contents on drugs, not diseases. Considering that many people turn to DTC websites seeking 
information about medical conditions, beyond the specific drugs, it is important to assess their 
educational value. To what extent DTC websites provide educational information about the 
diseases themselves will enable us to evaluate public benefits of such websites.  
Internet as a source of health information
A recent 2009 reports by Pew Internet and American Life Project estimates that about six 
in ten (61%) of American adults are online health information seekers who use the Internet for 
health information (Fox and Jones 2009). Since 2002, the highest ranking health topic which 
adults access through the Internet is information about a specific disease or medical problem. 
The 49% of American adults seek for the information about a specific disease or medical 
problem in 2009. In this survey, adults reported that: 41% of adults seek for the information 
about certain medical treatment or procedure; 38% of adults use the Internet for information 
seeking about exercise or fitness; 33% of adults seek out information about prescription or over-
the-counter drugs. 
In particular, some research showed that people are more likely to use the Internet for 
sensitive information and stigma-related information. A 2009 Pew Internet and American Life 
Project survey showed that the percentage of adults who look online for information about 
mental health issues has increased in the past years: 21% of adults for information about 
6


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