Social media being used as a platform to disclose illness

By Healthcare IT News
02:09 PM

The Internet has not only transformed how consumers gain access to health information, it is also significantly changing how they seek comfort during a health crisis, according to new research from Minneapolis marketing firm, Russell Herder.

Using the firm's social media research tools and analysis, Russell Herder was able to identify certain trends related to how individuals use social media platforms to disclose a serious medical diagnosis. By analyzing phrases such as "I tested positive for," or "I've been diagnosed with," researchers tracked self-disclosures based upon day of the week, online platform most frequently used and interestingly, the type of disease most likely to be announced and discussed online. Breast cancer patients, for instance, are much more likely to share news of their diagnoses than those afflicted with other forms of the disease.

Researchers observed that in light of such high utilization of social media for personal health conversations, clinics, hospitals and other organizations should be sure to provide – or lead their patients to – online disease education and support forums. They also noted that patients' apparent proclivity to disclose information about an illness reinforces the importance of immediate access to counseling and support after a diagnosis.

Brian Herder, executive  creative director at the agency, says the research insights have implications for a wide range of healthcare organizations and those whom they serve.

"Social media platforms have created a wealth of opportunity for healthcare consumers," said Herder. "We hope this study helps professionals across the industry imagine new, innovative ways to serve the emotional needs of patients who receive troubling news about their health."

For the full list of observations and the study in its entirety, click here.