GE Healthcare recently commissioned an online survey, con- ducted by Harris Interactive, to gain more insight on whether or not social media, online communities, message boards and/or forums can encourage improved health behavior. Twenty six percent of U.S. online adults have discussed health information online in the past 12 months and 30 percent of those have changed a health behavior as a result. Leading experts agree that social media can help improve health and while non-users are citing privacy as their top barrier to engaging further, experts caution that those who discuss health information online should be more conscious of the accuracy of information received.
Insights from Consumers
The survey of more than 2,100 U.S. online adults done in October 2012 provided clear insights into how social media can affect health behaviors.
– Twenty six percent of online adults discuss health information online; privacy cited as the biggest barrier to entry.
– Eighty two (82) percent of online adults have used social media in the past 12 months.
– Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter topped the charts for most-used sites.
– Twenty six (26) percent of online adults discussed health information online.
Of those who discussed health information online:
– Thirty (30) percent had changed a health behavior as a result.
– Many said to have changed their diet and/or fitness behavior while few stated quitting smoking or changing a behavior related to stress or serious illness management.
– More than four in 10, 42 percent, used it to seek or post information about a current medical condition or find clinical trials on a specific condition.
– Nearly 35 percent used it to get or give support from/to others for fitness or health goals.
– Twenty nine (29) percent used it to friend/follow brands, companies, and/or organizations related to fitness, health, diet or specific medical conditions.
– Of note was why users said they used social media/online communities/message boards/forums for health-related topics.
– Nearly half, 49 percent, said it was because social media is a quick and easy way to get health information or recommendations.
– Nearly as many, 47 percent, said it represents a good way to get different opinions from a wide range of people.
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