Twenty six percent of online adults discuss health information online;
privacy cited as the biggest barrier to entry
Insights from academia, business and media show social media can help improve
health but caution that accuracy of information should be top concern
WAUKESHA, Wis. -- November 20, 2012
Twenty six percent of U.S. online adults have discussed health information
online in the past 12 months^1 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^2 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.
GE Healthcare recently commissioned an online survey, conducted 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. At the same time, the company convened a panel of global experts
through a virtual roundtable to discuss how social networking can best improve
health. The results show that engagement is notable but there’s work to do to
convert conversations into changes in behavior.
“We are just starting to tap into the power of social media and its ability to
change health behaviors,” said Jeff DeMarrais, chief communications officer at
GE Healthcare. “It will require a mix of smart tools, savvy consumers,
pioneering health experts and education to continue changing conversations and
behaviors. GE Healthcare has introduced several first-of-their-kind programs
that do just this and there’s much opportunity ahead.”
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.
*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
*Of those who discussed health information online^1:
*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
*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
*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.
According to the survey, many online adults agreed that others knowing about
their diet, health and fitness, and/or specific medical condition(s) is the
top concern to discussing health information online^1 (46 percent). Online
adults cited trustworthiness (45 percent) and accuracy of information (44
percent) as top concerns, as well. During the GE Healthcare virtual roundtable
on social networking in health, the panel of global experts stressed that
accuracy of information should be even more top of mind for consumers.
“Perhaps most worrying is the fact that the validity of the information [on
the internet] is not a prerequisite for promoting the information,” said Dr.
Bernie Hogan of the Oxford Internet Institute. Dr. Hogan participated in the
recent GE Healthcare virtual roundtable.
The more social you are, the healthier you can be
According to Dr. Nate Cobb of the Georgetown University School of Medicine and
Science Advisor to social health site MeYou Health, the more social you are,
the more likely you are to achieve your health goals using social networking
sites to support you. During GE Healthcare’s roundtable, Dr. Cobb explained,
“Most of our data suggest that there is a relationship between how many
connections you have within the site, and your ultimate outcomes, which is:
the more social you are, essentially the more likely you are to stick with the
product on a day-to-day basis and the more likely you are to report having
completed a challenge,”
To learn more from the group of academic, physician and communications experts
who participated in the virtual roundtable, click here:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris
Interactive on behalf of GE Healthcare from October 15-17, 2012 among 2,133
adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability
sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be
calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables,
please contact Crystal Chuckel.
ABOUT GE HEALTHCARE
GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that
are shaping a new age of patient care. Ourbroad expertise in medical imaging
and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems,
drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance
improvementand performance solutions services helpour customersto deliver
better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition,
wepartnerwith healthcare leaders, striving toleverage the global policy
change necessary to implementa successful shift to sustainable healthcare
Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is an $18 billion unit of
General Electric Company (NYSE: GE). Worldwide, GE Healthcare employs over
50,000 people committed to serving healthcare professionals and their patients
in more than 100 countries. For more information about GE Healthcare, visit
our website at www.gehealthcare.com.
^1 “Discussed health information online” means discussed on social
media/online communities/message boards/forums in the past 12 months.
^2 “Non-user” means not at all/somewhat likely to use social media/online
communities/message boards/forums to discuss health in the future.
262-548-4639 (office) | 262-309-2488 (mobile)
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.