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WAUKESHA, Wis. — More than a quarter of adults have discussed health information online, and almost a third have changed their behavior as a result, according to a new survey.
Harris Interactive released results of a survey of 2,133 adults conducted online in mid-October on behalf of GE Healthcare that found that while social media can help improve health, non-users cite privacy as a barrier to further engagement.
The survey found that 82% of adults had used social media in the past 12 months, while 26% have discussed health information online. Of those 26%, 30% had changed their behavior as a result — particularly changing diets and fitness behavior — while 42% used social media to seek or post information about a current medical condition or find clinical trials on a specific condition. Nearly 35% used them to get or give support about fitness and health goals, while 29% used it to follow brands, companies and organizations related to fitness, health, diet or specific medical conditions. When respondents were asked why they used social media, 49% said it was because it provided a quick and easy way to get health information and recommendations, while 47% said it was a good way to get different opinions from a wide range of people.
Still, 45% had concerns about trustworthiness about information, and 44% were concerned about accuracy, and 46% had concerns about others knowing about their diet, health, fitness or conditions.
"We are just starting to tap the power of social media and its ability to change health behaviors," GE Healthcare chief communications officer Jeff DeMarrais said. "It will require a mix of smart tools, savvy consumers, pioneering health experts and education to continue changing conversations and behaviors."