Forest Institute doctoral student Gage Stermensky II recently
conducted a study on consumer attitudes towards healthcare reform and the use
of social media. More than 1,000 participants from around the US, of various
ages, educational level, incomes, ethnicity, rural, and metropolitan areas
participated in the study.
Stermensky says his goal was for people to be
able to advocate for themselves in upcoming changes in healthcare reform and to
identify how social media can be utilized by researchers, educational
institutions, mental health and healthcare agencies.
"Due to upcoming changes in healthcare policy
directly affecting the United States, it is essential to understand barriers
consumers have in understanding and advocating for healthcare issues important
to them,” said Stermensky.
The study indicated that the majority of
participants have utilized social media sources for healthcare information at
least once in the past month. However, a
majority of participants indicated they do not know how or where to go to
advocate for healthcare issues important to them despite the numerous social
media venues for doing so. Furthermore,
participants indicated that their healthcare providers have not informed them
of such social media outlets.
Consumers indicated they would like to have
access to social media or mobile technology to obtain information on current
diseases, insurance, Medicare or Medicaid information, healthcare policy
updates, updates in current healthcare information, communicating with family
about healthcare issues, and support groups. However, participants did not
indicate preferences for using these services to communicate with employers
about healthcare related topics, prescription drug services, billing, or
"Social media utilization is obviously an
important part of communication in our society today. In order to move towards a patient-centered
healthcare system, it appears we need to meet consumers where they are at in
order to include them in important healthcare policy decision making, as well
as making social media an integral part of consumer healthcare services,” said
The data in the following tables shows a
breakdown of participants’ views on the different topics regarding social media
and healthcare reform.
Click on one of the tables below to enlarge.