People want more personal, expert 'health engagement,' global study reveals

October 16, 2008

October 16, 2008, New York - A 5,000-person, five-country study released today by Edelman shows that people want more active, trusted, and personal health interaction with companies, organizations and brands, effectively rewriting the "rules of engagement" in health. The Edelman Health Engagement Barometer finds that to win a "license to engage," companies must, above all, help people address their specific personal health concerns and help them maintain their health through prevention and care. They also must provide people with thorough, transparent, and specific information; engage them through personal and health-expert channels, online and off; and address personal issues like health and well-being before larger societal concerns.

The study also found that one-fifth of people comprise a highly influential group--the "Health Info-entials." Health Info-entials are involved, informed and engaged in health. Health Info-entials have more stakes in health than the general population: they are more likely to work in a health-related field (26 percent vs. 18 percent), suffer from a severe or chronic health condition (41 percent vs. 34 percent), be a caregiver (17 percent vs. 11 percent), and take prescription medications (47 percent vs. 41 percent). Health Info-entials span all ages and walks of life. The Health Info-entials also are, overall, more trusting of companies and organizations involved in health (69 percent vs. 58 percent) and more likely to listen to and take positive actions on behalf of a company or organization in health than the general population (81 percent vs. 63 percent).

"We're seeing the democratization of communications," said Richard Edelman, President and CEO, Edelman. "The new Health Info-entials have a voice based on their personal experience and willingness to share their points of view with friends and the broader community."

According to the study, effective health engagement can build trust and, conversely, trust is the key to deeper engagement. "Health engagement and trust fuel each other," said Nancy Turett, Global President, Health, Edelman. "However, engagement is not fully reciprocal -- the perceived balance of power is not equal--so companies seeking to engage effectively in health must foster trust."

New Rules of Health Engagement

Health engage me: In the study, people said that they want personal, honest engagement and dialogue on the health issues that affect them personally (54 percent). And the higher the personal stake in the issue, the higher the desire for engagement. The study also found tight alignment among people's personal health and public health priorities, and the priorities people expect companies involved in health to have (i.e., provide access to affordable healthcare, solve chronic health problems and prevent disease were top three priorities).

Health expertise is prime: The most credible source for health information is "my doctor or healthcare professional" (96 percent). Yet even for the most credible source, the Health Info-entials turn to other sources to validate information they get from their doctors (88 percent).

My health and well-being come first: Above all, the study shows people care most about protecting and maintaining their health: "maintain health and well-being" (74 percent), "solve chronic health problems" (66 percent) and prevent disease (61 percent). People reported that these personal health concerns are more important for health companies to address than other issues such as fostering innovation (41 percent), protecting privacy (40 percent) and addressing environmental impact on health (47 percent). People also defined their health and well-being holistically (e.g., personal appearance, financial health and social connections with others.

Interact everywhere. Health influence happens across all channels. No one channel, or set of channels, is turned to more than others for credible health information. The channel named most frequently for companies and organizations to communicate with people -- "through my doctor or healthcare provider" -- is only 30 percent. For a company or organization in health, this means it is not a matter of whether it should be "in" interactive channels or not, but a mandate to contribute to the conversation before it gets defined by others.

Engage with Health Info-entials. With their high influence and vanguard position, Health Info-entials are leading the conversation about health issues, companies, organizations and brands, and they illuminate the future channels, topics and sources that will wield the most health influence.

"This growing group of individuals is a critical audience for companies and organization involved in health to understand," said Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, Founder, THINK-Health and an advisor to the Health 2.0 Conference. "The imperative is to communicate with them across multiple channels with health expertise and personally relevant content."
About the study

The Edelman Health Engagement Barometer surveyed adults age 18-75 in five countries (China, Germany, Russia, UK, and US) and explored the concept of engagement along three dimensions: emerging topics that are most important to health stakeholders; emerging influentials who are participating in conversations and activities related to those topics; and emerging channels through which communications on these topics is most effective. Additional in-depth interviews with nearly 50 traditional health influencers also occurred concurrently. The study was designed by StrategyOne and fielded by Greenfield Online in August through September 2008.

About Edelman

Edelman is the world's leading independent public relations firm, with over 3,200 employees in 54 offices worldwide. Edelman was named PRWeek's "2008 Large Agency of the Year," Holmes Report's "2008 Global Agency of the Year," and listed as top-10 firm in Advertising Age's "2007 Agency A-List," the first and only PR firm to receive this recognition. In 2007, CEO Richard Edelman was honored as Agency Executive of the Year by Advertising Age and "Most Powerful PR Executive" by PRWeek. For more information about Edelman visit

For more information about health engagement, visit

For more information contact: Mechal Weiss at or at 212.642.7731.

A Webex on the study results will be held on Thursday, October 16 at 11:00 a.m. ET. Please see below for dial-in information and how to access the presentation online:


Dial-In for U.S./Canada: +1.888.417.8526
Access code: 8499543


Step 1: Test your browser

Click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser:

If you have Microsoft Office Live Meeting installed on your computer, you can skip this step. If not, follow the instructions to download the software.

Step 2: Join the meeting at 10:50 a.m. to allow time for the meeting to load and log you in.

Click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser to join the meeting:

If you have any trouble downloading the software or logging on, dial 1-888.569.3848 for assistance.

Edelman Public Relations

Related Health Information Articles from Brightsurf:

Readability of public health information on COVID-19 from governments, international agencies
The readability of information about COVID-19 was evaluated on websites of public health agencies and governments of 15 countries.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interface of genomic information with the electronic health record
In an effort to provide practical guidance and important considerations regarding how genomic information can be incorporated into electronic health records, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) has released, 'The interface of genomic information with the electronic health record: a points to consider statement of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG).'

Leveraging information technology to address health disparities
Within the supplement are 12 original research papers and five editorials and commentaries.

Using information technology to promote health equity -- update in Medical Care
An innovative health information technology (IT) program helps primary care providers to detect and manage depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in traumatized refugees, reports a study in a special June supplement to Medical Care.

Do we have an epidemic? Enhancing disease surveillance using a health information exchange
While disease surveillance has shifted toward greater use of electronically transmitted information to decrease the reporting burden on physicians, the challenge of getting the right information to public health officials at the right time has not been completely solved.

Information on reproductive health outcomes lacking in Catholic hospitals
As Catholic health care systems expand nationwide, little is known about the reproductive outcomes of their patients compared to patients in other settings, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Harvesting health information from an unusual place: The wastewater treatment plant
Every day, people all over the world unwittingly release a flood of data on what drugs they are taking and what illnesses they are battling, simply by going to the bathroom and flushing.

Are hospitals improperly disposing of personal health information?
A substantial amount of personal information, most of it personal health information, was found in the recycling at five hospitals in Toronto, Canada, despite policies in place for protection of personal information.

New method extracts information on psychiatric symptoms from electronic health records
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have developed a new method to extract valuable symptom information from doctors' notes, allowing them to capture the complexity of psychiatric disorders that is missed by traditional sources of clinical data.

Read More: Health Information News and Health Information Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to