A study of medical and health queries to web search engines.

Amanda Spink, Yin Yang, Bernard Jansen, Pirrko Nykanen, Daniel P. Lorence, Seda Ozmutlu, H. Cenk Ozmutlu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

98 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports findings from an analysis of medical or health queries to different web search engines. We report results: (i). comparing samples of 10000 web queries taken randomly from 1.2 million query logs from the AlltheWeb.com and Excite.com commercial web search engines in 2001 for medical or health queries, (ii). comparing the 2001 findings from Excite and AlltheWeb.com users with results from a previous analysis of medical and health related queries from the Excite Web search engine for 1997 and 1999, and (iii). medical or health advice-seeking queries beginning with the word 'should'. Findings suggest: (i). a small percentage of web queries are medical or health related, (ii). the top five categories of medical or health queries were: general health, weight issues, reproductive health and puberty, pregnancy/obstetrics, and human relationships, and (iii). over time, the medical and health queries may have declined as a proportion of all web queries, as the use of specialized medical/health websites and e-commerce-related queries has increased. Findings provide insights into medical and health-related web querying and suggests some implications for the use of the general web search engines when seeking medical/health information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Information and Libraries Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


Cite this

Spink, A., Yang, Y., Jansen, B., Nykanen, P., Lorence, D. P., Ozmutlu, S., & Ozmutlu, H. C. (2004). A study of medical and health queries to web search engines. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 21(1), 44-51.