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JupiterResearch: In The Future Up To 50% Of Online Users Could Become Health Connectors
Last month, I highlighted the results of a very interesting JupiterResearch study looking at how people use and exchange health content online.  At the time, I said that this research indicates that social media really does matter in healthcare.  

Last week, I attended the 6th Annual eMarketing for the Pharmaceutical Industry conference held in Philadelphia where Jupiter’s Monique Levy (pictured at right) presented more information from this study.  I’m sure some of you have questions about how Jupiter conducted its research and the implications of the study.  I’ve tried to answer a few of them below.

How Did JupiterResearch Conduct This Study?

Jupiter randomly selected consumers using the Internet from a panel produced by its research partner Ipos-Insight.  2,104 people responded to the survey and were asked questions about their behaviors, attitudes and preferences on a range of subjects including health.  The panel was carefully weighted to conform with US Census Bureau demographic data.  The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

What Is A Health Connector?

Jupiter defines “health connectors” as people who connect with others to share information and find support online.  These individuals use a range of mobile and online technologies such as e-mail, support boards (or online forums), blogs and podcasts.

JupiterResearch found that 34% of US online users have “connected to others or to the content others created online about health and wellness issues in the past year.”  During her presentation, Levy suggested that as many as 50% of online users could become health connectors in the future.  

Do Health Connectors Trust Online Content Created By Consumers?

One question many are asking is whether and why people trust peer-developed online content.  Of health connectors surveyed, 17% say that they trust “health and wellness information [developed] by other consumers."  In addition, nearly 80% trust this content "to some degree."  

They may be especially trusting  of consumer content in cases where others provide “concrete information” about their experiences with a medication or treatment.

What Are The Implications Of This Research For Marketers?

Jupiter’s study compliments research conducted by my firm, Envision Solutions, and the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council indicating that people are seeking “straight talk” about medical issues. This means:

-While reaching “health connectors” and generators of user-generated media is important, we should focus less on influencing the influencers and more on providing content and information people can use.

-Hospitals, pharma companies, government agencies and other industry stakeholders can best participate in the online conversation by transparently providing people with personal perspectives and information that will help them make better health decisions.  Given the health literacy gap, this content should be clear, free from jargon and delivered by “citizen” and medical experts with first-hand knowledge.  

-Providing links to factual content alongside user-generated media may be one way to ensure that people are receiving accurate health information.   

1 Comments/Trackbacks

I concur with Jupitar results. We are a B2B stock photo agency specilizing in healthcare, medical and science images. Beside serving the pharma industry and their advertising agencies we have many consumers coming to our website,, to view images of certain conditions, diseases and syndromes.

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