Social internet sites as a source of public health information

So cial Internet Sitesas a Source of PublicHealth I nformation Karl Vance, William Howe, Robert P. Dellaval e, MD, PhD, MSPH  Viral marketing  Web 2.0  YouTube  Twitter MySpace  Facebook  Social media Patients rely on the Internet more frequently than creative new ideas virtually free of charge. Creative their physicians as a source of health care informa- videos often are then widely disseminated by tion, and emerging social media Web sites play an viewers via e-mail and hyperlinks on personal increasing role in online health searches.Socially Web sites. Analogously, in the dermatology com- oriented sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, munity, the Sulzberger Institute for Dermatologic MySpace, Twitter, and Second LifeÒ, comprise part of the user-generated content constituting the best video promoting sun safe behavior.
Web 2.0 and are popular particularly among Amer-icans aged 18 to 30, two thirds of whom say theyvisit the sites A health-specific social In contrast to the music and film industries, which allows patients who have similar illnesses to rapidly adapted social media marketing, this me- communicate and share medical experiences.
dium remains underused by public health profes-sionals despite its low cost and wide reach.
MySpace and Facebook pages for musical bandsand new movies abound, encouraging fans to lis- ‘‘Social media marketing’’ encompasses advertis- ten to new tracks or view theatrical trailers. Politi- ing and promotional efforts that use social media cal campaigns also reach out to young adults Web sites.It is a form of viral marketing, a term through social networking sites: 8% of people coined by Harvard professor Jeffrey F. Rayport in polled under age 30 became an online ‘‘friend’’ 1996, to illustrate how a message spreads through of one of the presidential candidates in the 2008 an online community rapidly and effortlessly.The Physicians similarly could be ‘‘friended.’’ content of social media marketing campaigns The young adult demographic using social media often is user generated; companies, such as sites are attractive to media for spreading public General Motors, JetBlue, and Sony, have spon- health messages targeting this population, such sored contests for viewers to submit videos as sun safety awareness, tobacco cessation, and promoting their products, simultaneously involving customers in the marketing process and obtaining Just as young adults can ‘‘friend’’ their favorite Supported by University of Colorado Denver, School of Medicine, Colorado Health Informatics Collaborationinterdisciplinary academic enrichment funds (RPD) and by National Cancer Institute grant K-07 CA92550 (RPD).
a Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, P.O. Box 6510,Mail Stop F703, Aurora, CO 80045, USAb Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 1055 Clermont Street, #165, Denver, CO, USAc Colorado School of Public Health, 13001 E. 17th Place, Campus Box B119, Aurora, CO, 80045, USA* Corresponding author. Colorado School of Public Health, 13001 E. 17th Place, Campus Box B119, Aurora,CO 80045.
E-mail address: (R.P. Dellavalle).
Dermatol Clin 27 (2009) 133–136doi:10.1016/j.det.2008.11.0100733-8635/08/$ – see front matter ª 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
band, movie, or political candidate, they could add ranging from ‘‘An Accutane Story: The Chapstick a link on their personal page to a skin health site Chronicles’’ to ‘‘Accutane is POISON! DO NOT with updates on acne treatment and other health USE IT!!!!’’ The majority of videos are mainly posi- tive accounts by Accutane users sharing their per-sonal experiences with other viewers. An overviewof the top three videos by relevance is provided in More than 100 million videos are viewed on You- A similar YouTube search for the term ‘‘Botox’’ Tube daily, and that number continues to rise.
returns 2750 videos; the top three videos sorted Several recent public health studies have looked at the content of videos hosted on YouTube that the top Botox videos actually are advertisements have tobacco and human papillomavirus vaccina- posted by Botox providers. These promotional videos often include footage of Botox injections tential power YouTube holds for personal health and personal testimonials by patients receiving decision making. A cursory search on YouTube treatments. Frequently, the patients receive dis- for the term ‘‘Accutane’’ results in 87 hits with titles counts for their participation, raising ethical Table 1A summary of the top three videos ranked by relevanceresulting from aYouTube search for ‘Accutane’ or‘‘Botox’ on August 15, 2008 personal story of how themedication helped him,a warning of side effects,and a request for otherpatients to share theirexperiences.
Accutane suggesting thatAccutane will help youget out and participate inlife.
patient, phone number,and Web site address ofthe provider’s office.
Kelly Ripa talks abouta book describingalternatives to Botox andstates that she has nothad any injections.
a Relevance refers to the default ranking for YouTube queries and is determined by a proprietary algorithm.
questions.Paid testimonials may not reflect pa- be applied, however, to social media Web sites, tient experience accurately. Social media market- and thoughtful action should be taken to provide patients with sound medical advice within online governmental regulation. It is important for the dermatology community to be aware of dermatol-ogists advertising on these new media. Such mon-itoring will promote the integrity of the profession.
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Pre-publication copy downloaded August 9, 2008.
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