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Social media trails behind online articles, according to health information study

Around 90 per cent of health information consumed by participants came from articles, while 2 per cent was received via social media

Health organisations that focus primarily on social media are missing over 90 per cent of the online opportunities to shape health behaviour, according to a new study.

New York-based healthcare communications consultancy, Enspektos, has been tracking online health content viewed by a group of 320 US participants, which includes 122,00+ web pages and Twitter/Facebook status updates.

The consultancy has found that 93 per cent of the health information consumed by participants was found on online news sites, web health properties and sites like Wikipedia.

In contrast, 2 per cent of health content was received via Twitter or Facebook feeds. And, perhaps even more surprising, only 5 per cent was encountered during searches of sites such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

The data was collected through the company's Digihealth Pulse research initiative, which gathers real-time information from online and social, earned and owned, media content. The study tracks the intentions and behaviour of participants who have gone online to look for health information.

“Currently, Facebook and Twitter receive a great deal of attention,” said Fard Johnmar, founder and president of Enspektos. “We have also been taught that search is the primary gateway to online health information.

“The situation is much more complicated. News sites, Wikipedia, online health properties and other traditional web sources dominate in health. If we are to successfully activate health behaviour change using the web, we can't leave more than 90 per cent of persuasion opportunities on the virtual table.”

Digital Pulse was launched in September this year and the conclusions were drawn from information gathered from US participants between September 20 to October 1, and covering 37 topics (including Obamacare, heart disease and sexually transmitted diseases).

2nd October 2012

From: Marketing

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