Consumers use much more electronic communication than 10, five and even one year ago, and digital socialization has become a part of their daily lives, according to new research from Euro RSCG Life presented at the United States Food & Drug Administration hearing into the promotion of regulated medical products using the Internet and social media tools.
“This research further underscores the value of online and social media and confirms it is not just a fad for a select group of consumers,” says Donna Murphy, worldwide managing partner of Euro RSCG Life Worldwide. “Social media has instead become more relevant in consumer communications, not only supporting offline social dialogues but also allowing people to research and seek out proper health care. This FDA hearing has arrived at a critical juncture of social media’s upward trajectory and health care’s emergence as a major political issue.”
Only 12 percent of those surveyed thought social media was just a fad, and one-third believed it would become an even greater part of their lives in years to come.
Additional findings from this research include:
· Nearly nine out of 10 surveyed said they consider the Internet a reputable source of health-related information and would use it as a resource.
· More than 80 percent had previously turned to the Internet for information about a particular treatment, and 44 percent stated they would also turn to social media for similar information.
· Safety information is a significant determining factor for consumers: Twice as many respondents said they would click a link that promised to provide additional safety information than one that did not make such an offer.
· Of those who had previously researched treatment information online, 28 percent are comfortable with the level of safety information currently provided.
· However, more than a third of those surveyed would like to see more safety information made available, if possible.
· Nearly one-third of those surveyed take the information they find online to initiate a conversation with their doctor, while another third use that information to develop their own health plan.
· Even when it was not the direct catalyst for doctor-patient dialogue, two-thirds of all surveyed stated they found social media a helpful source of health information when they eventually spoke to their physician on the subject.
“Until the FDA’s official guidance is issued based on this week’s hearing and information exchange, the pharma industry, and those of us who communicate on its behalf, will continue to monitor this subject very closely,” says Doug Burcin, worldwide managing partner of Euro RSCG Life Worldwide. “These statistics suggest that once this guidance is in place, there is an audience ready to use social media to help them make more informed decisions about their health.”