California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Consumers Turning to Social Media To Search for Health Information

About 33% of U.S. consumers use social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to obtain health information and track and share symptoms, according to a new survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Computerworld's "Government IT" reports.

PwC researchers polled 1,040 U.S. adults for the survey.

Survey Findings

According to the survey, more than 80% of respondents ages 18 to 24 said they are likely to share health information through social media sites, compared with 45% of respondents ages 45 to 64.

The survey also found that 72% of respondents said they would use social media sites for scheduling physician appointments and that 50% said they would expect a response within a few hours after making the appointment.

When asked about ways in which they have used social media for health-related purposes:

  • 42% of respondents said they have used social media to look up consumer reviews of health treatments or physicians;
  • 30% said they have supported a health cause through social media;
  • 25% said they have shared their own health experiences on social media websites; and
  • 20% said they have joined a health forum or online health community.

When asked about how social media could influence their health decisions:

  • 45% of respondents said health information obtained through social media sites would cause them to seek a second opinion;
  • 41% said social media sites would influence their choice of a specific physician, hospital or medical facility (Mearian, "Government IT," Computerworld, 4/17);
  • More than 40% said health information on social media sites would affect how they manage a chronic condition or approach diet and exercise routines (Goedert, Health Data Management, 4/16); and
  • 34% said social media websites would affect their decision to take certain medications ("Government IT," Computerworld, 4/17).

Comparing Websites of Health Care Businesses and Community Groups

The survey also evaluated social media activity on the websites of 10 health care organizations that are a part of the eHealth Initiative advocacy group. The organizations included businesses and community groups

It found that the websites of community organizations "had 24 times more social media activity on average than any of the health industry companies over a one-week timeframe" (Health Data Management, 4/16).

This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.