For those who go online, the internet holds great promise.

The deck is stacked against people living with chronic disease. They are disproportionately offline. They often have complicated health issues, not easily solved by the addition of even the best, most reliable, medical advice.

And yet, those who are online have a trump card. They have each other. This survey finds that having a chronic disease increases the probability that an internet user will share what they know and learn from their peers. They unearth nuggets of information. They blog. They participate in online discussions. And they just keep going.

The online essays contributed by members of the HealthCentral and PatientsLikeMe communities speak to the potential of online health resources to make a significant impact in people’s lives. The telephone survey results show just how far the field must go to reach the millions of adults who are still searching for answers.