Healthcare Information Bucks the Consumer Trend of Peer-to-Peer

Makovsky + Company Survey Breaks Down Consumers’ Use of Social Media by Channel

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- News sites — specifically health magazines’ Websites and WebMD — remain the most trusted online healthcare resource, according to results from a national consumer survey conducted by Makovsky + Company. User-generated contributions on Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs are less frequently sought out by health-information hungry consumers, with 54% of Americans accessing this content versus 68% on online news sites.

While consumer contributions on sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor are flourishing, the poll unearthed unique online search behaviors for health. The survey, conducted in March 2011 by Kelton Research, a leading national public opinion company, polled 1,111 nationally representative consumers aged 18 and older.

“Peer-to-peer communication establishes an emotional, ‘tell me your story’ connection; yet, when it comes to healthcare information, patients still trust the experts,” said Gil Bashe, EVP and Health Practice Leader at Makovsky. “These data give Makovsky deeper insight into how patients engage online — the fast-lane for today’s healthcare communicators.”

The survey explored patients’ information-seeking behaviors on specific social media channels, identifying WebMD as the most popular for health searches, with almost half (48%) of Americans visiting the site. Among other findings:

  • Only 3% of consumers visit Twitter feeds for healthcare information
  • Patient communities’ Websites are visited by 7% of respondents
  • Facebook sites rank as the fourth most-frequented resource; 11% of Americans turn to the ubiquitous site for healthcare information
    • U.S. Federal government is seen as the most credible shepherd of information. More than a third of Americans (35%) visit government-sponsored sites first when accessing Facebook health resources
    • 26% of respondents cite Facebook sites created by peers as the least trusted health resource. 6% cite Facebook sites by patient groups or communities as least trusted
    • Pharmaceutical company-sponsored pages rank as the least visited; with disease awareness pages and branded treatment pages each frequented by 6% of respondents

“Patients are creating online communities to share their experiences, but they're still returning to reputable news sites and professionals for facts and information they can trust,” said Timothy Kane, EVP of the digital marketing practice at Makovsky. “Our mission is to help our clients connect to the digital discourse, and build strong relationships to those patient communities.”

About Makovsky + Company

Founded in 1979, Makovsky + Company is one of the nation’s leading independent global public relations, investor relations and branding consultancies, focused in financial services, professional services, health care, technology, energy and branding and interactive. The firm attributes its success to its original vision: that the Power of Specialized Thinking™ is the best way to build reputation, sales and fair valuation for a client. Based in New York City, the firm has agency partners in more than 25 countries and in 35 U.S. cities through IPREX, the second largest worldwide public relations agency partnership, of which Makovsky is a founder.

About Kelton Research

Kelton Research is a market research and strategy consultancy that works with some of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands to help them better understand and connect with consumers. Kelton provides highly customized qualitative and quantitative research for a wide variety of companies across multiple sectors including many in the Fortune 500. For more information, please see


Makovsky + Company
Jamie Rosenbaum, 212-508-9629
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  New York

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Technology  Internet  Health  Other Health  General Health



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