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Health app downloads stagnate among cell phone users during past year, survey finds

About 11% of U.S. adult cell phone users downloaded an application (or app) that “helped them track or manage their health” in August 2011, according to a survey by Pew Research Centers’ Internet & American Life Project.

For more than a year, Pew has tracked the adoption of health apps by U.S. adults. In September 2010, Pew found that about 9% of all U.S. adults had downloaded an app to help manage their health.

But due to a change in the way the 2 surveys were conducted, Pew characterized the slight increase as “statistically insignificant,” meaning app adoption has been largely stagnant during the past 12 months. In August 2011, the question was asked of adults who have downloaded an app to a cell phone or tablet computer, rather than all cell phone users. “More than one-quarter of this population (29%) report downloading a health app,” Pew wrote. “Looking just at adults who download apps to a cell phone, this translates to 11% of all adult cell phone users having downloaded an app that helps them manage their health.”

Overall, the survey showed the share of adult cell phone owners who have downloaded any type of app to their phone increased during the past 2 years – from 22% in September 2009 to 38% in August 2011. The share of U.S. adults who purchased a phone already equipped with apps also increased during the past year, from 38% in May 2010 to 43% in August 2011.

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