A survey of 1,600 adults shows considerable use of social media for health care purposes.

Forty-two percent of respondents have used social media to access consumer reviews of treatments or physicians, 30 percent have supported a health cause, 25 percent have posted content about their own health experiences and 20 percent have joined a health forum or community, according to the Health Research Institute of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The use of social media for health care consumers also could extend to decision making on specific health issues, according to respondents. Forty-five percent said information they found via social media would affect decisions to seek a second opinion; more than 40 percent said information would affect the way they coped with a chronic condition or how they approach diet and exercise.

PWC also evaluated social media activity of 10 health care companies that are members of the eHealth Initiative advocacy group, finding that the businesses have social media initiatives but considerably lag behind community sites. “In fact, community sites had 24 times more social media activity on average than any of the health industry companies over that one-week timeframe,” according to the consultancy. Survey results are available here.

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