Health, Search, And Social Media

    February 26, 2007

People who search for health related issues online are exposed to a large amount of user-generated media. They are frequently relying on corporate, nonprofit and government Web sites along with blogs and other social media according to a study from Envision Solutions done in December.

Fard Johnmar, founder of Envision Solutions says that people are having an impact on healthcare and products they are researching online. ““Citizen medical experts are shaping people’s perceptions of health products, services and issues in numerous ways,” he said. “Marketers must listen to conversations people are having online and find ways to provide people with health content they want in ways that are relevant to their brands.”

Online health searchers are routinely exposed to user- generated media. Out of 16 queries Envision Solutions conducted on Google and Yahoo, user-generated media appeared on the first three pages of search 88 percent of the time.

People seeking health information through search engines rely mainly on government, corporate and non-profit Web sites for their information. One example is that 32 percent of those who typed “diabetes” into a search engine visited the American Diabetes Association’s site.

One interesting if alarming piece of information from the study was that three quarters of those who look online for health information do not check the source and date of the content they find.

In some instances wikis and blogs are receiving their fair share of traffic. Five percent of those searching online for information about the antidepressant Lexapro between mid-December 2006 and mid-January 2007 went to This is a blog that contains information about the safety and efficacy of psychiatric medications.

The study also revealed that Wikipedia was a commonly cited resource of user-generated media indexed by search engines.

As to why people are turning to social media concerning health issues Johnmar said,”People are relying on blogs and other social media because they want straight talk about health and medical issues they care about.”
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