Maybe not according to this report from the CDC. They studied internet use with respect to adherence behavior and a number of health-related outcomes. It suggests that folks who diss the doc in favor of the Internet may not do as well as we think.
This quote caught me:
The data also revealed that personal determinants such as neuroticism (reflects anxiety and emotionality) and health-related poorer quality of life differentiated internet-instigated non-adherent respondents from their counterparts.
More plainly put: If you trust your life to an anonymous guy on twitter with the handle @YourHealthGuru, you might not do as well as if you partnered with a trained professional.
Or perhaps I’m reading too much into the study.
While this would appear to be a turd in the social health punchbowl, we have to be careful about drawing firm conclusions from isolated studies. There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of community. But just keep in mind that there’s a chance that it may not be all that we make of it here in our shiny social bubble.
The authors conclude by offering a few tips for health marketing professionals. Among them: Avoid fear appeals and message styles that stimulate psychological reactance.
I continue to be really impressed by the work of the CDC. This study was conducted by the ‘Strategic and Proactive Communication Branch in the Division of Communication Services’. Didn’t even know we had one.