I was pleased to see that Pew did an excellent job of polling a representative sample of US bloggers. Pew used the gold standard method of telephoning a random sample of US Internet users and asking them whether they blog.
Specifically Pew says that they:
- Conducted the blogger study as part of their standard random-digit tracking survey of Internet users among a representative sample of American adults. Using information gathered in these studies, Pew concluded that 8% of American adult Internet users (12 million people) are blogging.
- Pew surveyed a random sample of the 8% of US adults who maintain a blog via telephone and received 233 responses to their survey request (people who called back and agreed to be interviewed). Pew reported the results of this survey of 233 respondents.
Interestingly, Pew found that 37% of bloggers use their Weblogs to discuss their lives. This statistic indicates that the majority of bloggers view their blogs as online diaries.
I was also happy to see that Pew reported on how many bloggers focus on health-related topics. The results are interesting and appear to the right (please click the image to view a larger version of it).
First, 35% of bloggers report that they focus on a single topic.
In addition, 5% of bloggers blog about business.
Also, 4% of bloggers focus on technology.
Finally, 1% (or 120,000) of US bloggers focus on health (i.e., general health or an illness).
Implications Of This Study For The Healthcare Blogosphere
Now, the healthcare blogosphere contains bloggers who focus on healthcare business, technology, politics, government and other topics. So, it is possible that some of the bloggers interviewed may have said that they blog about business or technology -- even if it is healthcare-focused.
So, and I am making a guess here, it is possible that the size of the US healthcare blogosphere could be between 1% and 1.5% of total bloggers (120,000 - 180,000 Americans). This is if we assume that some bloggers reporting that they focus on other topics (business, technology, government and general news) do it from a healthcare perspective.
Click here to read the full Pew report.
What's Needed Now?
What's needed now is a survey of a sample of healthcare-focused bloggers (in the US and around the world) to determine:
-What topics they focus on
-Why they blog
-How long they have been blogging
-Their perceptions of the potential impact of healthcare blogs
-Healthcare bloggers' interaction with the media, public relations professionals and advertisers
I'm currently working on a project that will hopefully shed light on these (and other) questions. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting initiative.