Intended for healthcare professionals


What web browsing reveals about your health

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 16 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5974
  1. Timothy Libert, PhD candidate1,
  2. David Grande, assistant professor of medicine2,
  3. David A Asch, professor of medicine234
  1. 1Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  2. 2Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  3. 3 Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  4. 4Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
  1. Correspondence to: D A Asch asch{at}
  • Accepted 23 October 2015


Advertisers can learn a lot from our digital footprints, including about our health. Timothy Libert and colleagues argue that we need to tighten restrictions on such data for marketing purposes while looking at their potential to improve health


  • We thank Maxime Marie Jean Cordier for a list of health related French web pages and Carolina Garzon Mrad for the figure.

  • Contributors and sources: DAA has expertise in health policy and DG has conducted research into the influence of marketing in medicine and how individuals view privacy of their electronic health information. TL has experience in computer science and expertise in the technology, policy, and business aspects of online advertising. DAA is the guarantor.

  • Competing interests: We have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: DAA is a principal at VAL Health and DG is a volunteer board member of Healthy Philadelphia (non-profit).

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