55% of Americans search user-generated health content, including:

  • 36% who look for health information on Wikipedia
  • 36% who read online health forums and message boards
  • 27% who read health blogs.

The content is useful, too: 57% of people who used it said their online searching led to productive conversations with their physicians.

So finds the survey on Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Drugs, the 12th annual study from Rodale‘s publications Prevention, Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines. The Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communication (DDMAC) also provides technical support for this study. The survey was conducted in March 2009.

One of health citizens favorite sources for health information is online health videos, favored by nearly 50% of people. The favorite channels for health videos are health portals such as WebMD. The next favored platform for health videos online is drug company websites (14%), video sharing sites such as YouTube (9%), and social networking sites (6%).

Health Populi’s Hot Points: It’s encouraging to find more people looking for more health information as a sign of increasing health engagement. But it’s not just information for information’s sake. We’re all way too busy to simply surf for health with nothin’ much else to do. Rodale’s survey discovered what the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Populi already recognized: that consumers are looking for ways to reduce their health spending due to the downturn in the economy:

  • 32% switched to a generic prescription or OTC medicine
  • 27% canceled or delayed a doctor’s appointment
  • 20% switched to a doctor or pharmacy that takes their insurance.

User-generated content can help health citizens’ peers find trustworthy connections for both clinical and health-fiscal management.