Given the constant news about data breaches that compromise personal information, it is no wonder that Americans are increasingly squeamish about being hacked. A new poll conducted by POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that a majority of American adults worry about hackers gaining access to their Social Security number and credit card information.

When asked about which institutions they trust to protect their personal information, health care organizations such as doctor’s offices and hospitals ranked high, while most poll respondents expressed little trust that internet search engines and social media companies would keep their information safe, the study titled “Americans’ Views on Data Privacy & E-Cigarettes,” said.

More than half of adults said they were very concerned that unauthorized people may gain access to their Social Security number (63%) or their credit card number (57%). Among users of social media, 13% said they were very concerned that content they have posted on sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in the past may come back to harm or embarrass them in the future, and 14% were somewhat concerned.

The poll also asked a series of questions about data privacy as it applies to health information or products that adults may have searched for privately online. Among adults who said they have searched for health information or health products online, 30% were very concerned that a company would use their search information to try to sell them medical products or treatments.

More than a quarter (28%) said they were very concerned such information may make it harder for them to get medical care, and one in four (25%) said they were very concerned that private search information may come back to hurt their chances of getting a job or health insurance, according to the study report.

Many Americans do not just search for health information online; they also obtain personal health information through patient portals. These secure websites give patients 24-hour access to their health information from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The poll found that about a quarter (23%) of adults have ever set up a patient portal.

When asked what they use their patient portal for, the vast majority (81%) of adults said say they used theirs to see test results. More than half (59%) have used it to schedule an appointment, while 42% had requested a prescription refill and 40% received advice about a health problem using their patient portals. The study also showed that most respondents did not express a great deal of concern about potential hacking of patient portals.
About one in four (26%) patient portal users said they were very concerned that unauthorized people may be able to gain access to the private information contained in their portal. Meanwhile, 15% of users said they were not concerned about such a scenario at all.