WASHINGTON — As many as 7-in-10 U.S. adults track a health indicator for themselves or for a loved one, according to a Pew Research Center study released Monday.
The Pew Internet survey found that people living with one or more chronic conditions are no more likely than other U.S. adults to track their weight, diet, or exercise routine. They are, however, significantly more likely to track other health indicators or symptoms and this likelihood increases among those living with more than one condition:
"And one in three caregivers are also tracking health indicators or symptoms," lead researcher Susannah Fox shared in a video interview with Stanford Medical student Joyce Ho.
Almost half of people who keep track of their progress noted they do so "in their heads." As many as 34% keep a journal of the health data and 21% employ some form of technology to track the data.
There were significant differences between the 55% of trackers who record their notes in some organized way, such as on paper or using technology, and the 44% of trackers who keep track solely “in their heads," Fox noted.
People with more serious health concerns take their tracking more seriously. And people living with multiple chronic conditions are more likely to be methodical about collecting their own health data:
Half of all trackers update their records or notes only occasionally and most do not share the data with anyone else. One-third of trackers did share records and notes with another person or group, either online or offline. Of those, 52% share with a clinician.
Not surprisingly, trackers who do not take formal notes are less likely than others to say they update their records on a regular basis or to share their progress with someone else.
And trackers with chronic conditions were significantly more likely to report that these activities had an impact on their health. Caregivers and trackers who had experienced a recent, significant health change were more likely than other groups to report an impact. Trackers who keep formal records, such as on paper or using technology, were also more likely than others to report an impact.
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