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Social Marketing Quarterly

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http://smq.sagepub.com/Social Marketing Quarterly http://smq.sagepub.com/content/18/1/29The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/1524500411435481 2012 18: 29Social Marketing QuarterlyPaige Woolley and Michael PetersonEfficacy of a Health-Related Facebook Social Network Site on Health-Seeking Behaviors Published by: http://www.sagepublications.comOn behalf of: FHI360 can be found at:Social Marketing QuarterlyAdditional services and information for http://smq.sagepub.com/cgi/alertsEmail Alerts: http://smq.sagepub.com/subscriptionsSubscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.navReprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.navPermissions: http://smq.sagepub.com/content/18/1/29.refs.htmlCitations: What is This? - May 2, 2012Version of Record >> at YORK UNIVERSITY on October 23, 2012smq.sagepub.comDownloaded fromEfficacy of a Health-RelatedFacebook Social Network Siteon Health-Seeking BehaviorsPaige Woolley1and Michael Peterson1AbstractThe current study was designed to determine the impact of a health-related Facebook fan page onhealth-seeking actions, thoughts, and behaviors. Ninety Get Up and Do Something (GUADS) fans whowere 18 years and older completed an online questionnaire about their perceptions, use, andreaction to a Faceb ook page. Results revea led th e GUADS Facebook page prompts health-seeking actions by motivating fans to search for more health information online. The page positivelyinfluences health-related thoughts and behaviors by mo tivating and r eminding fans to engage inhealthy behaviors. Frequency of seeing, clicking, and reading GUADS posts was si gnific antly relatedto health information seeking and health-related thoughts and behaviors. Results suggest that Face-book may be an effective medium to help individuals maintain and adopt a healthy lifestyle.KeywordsSocial Media, Behavior Change, FacebookIntroductionHealth Information-Seeking BehaviorsAdvancements in access, speed, and availability of the Internet make it one of the most widely usedtools for seeking and searching information today. In recent years, the Internet has played an increasingrole in providing health-related content. According to 2009 Pew Internet research surveys, 8 in 10Internet users look for health information online, making it the third most popular online activity(Lenhart, 2009).To date, the majority of literature surrounding this topic has focused on understanding the predis-posing factors affecting health information-seeking behaviors online. Recurring research themes indi-cate that gender (i.e., being female; Abrahamson, Fisher, Turner, Durrance, & Turner, 2008; Chisolm,2010; Fox & Jones, 2009; Rice, 2006), Internet access (Atkinson, Saperstein, & Pleis, 2009; Fox &Jones, 2009; Palsdottir, 2009), perceived trust/credibility of online information (Hesse et al., 2005; Hu& Sundar, 2010; Lemire, Pare, Scirre, & Harvey, 2008; Leun g, 2008), interest obtaining health1University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USACorresponding Author:Michael Peterson, University of Delaware, 025 Carpenter Sports Building, Newark, DE 19716, USAEmail: [email protected] Marketing Quarterly18(1) 29-39ª The Author(s) 2012Reprints and permission:sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.navDOI: 10.1177/1524500411435481http://smq.sagepub.com at YORK UNIVERSITY on October 23, 2012smq.sagepub.comDownloaded frominformation (Dutta-Bergman, 2004; Lemire et al., 2008; Powell, Inglis, Ronnie, & Large, 2011), andcurrent health state (Atkinson et al., 2009) are predictive of health-related Internet use.Other studies have focused on how online health information seeking impacts one’s health-relatedcognitions, motivations, and behavioral actions (Abrahamson et al., 2000; Chisolm, 2010; Harbour &Chowdhury, 2006; Hu & Sundar, 2010; Kivitis, 2009; Rice, 2006). Many studies suggest that obtaininghealth information online increases one’s knowledge of health issues (Harbour & Chowdhury, 2006;Lemire et al., 2008), impacts behavioral intentions (Hu & Sundar, 2010), minimizes perceived barriersof obtaining health information (Leung, 2008), and increases confidence in making health and treat-ment decisions (Dutta-Bergman, 2004; Harbour & Chowdhury, 2006; Leung, 2008; Rice, 2006).Social Network Sites and HealthThere are various types of health-related Internet sites available including websites, social networksites such as Facebook and Myspace, social media sites such as blogs, forums, and wikis, as well asvideo and picture-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flicker. While health information is frequentlysought online, existing research indicates that social networking sites (sites that facilitate conversationand sharing) a re scarcely used for s eeking h ea lth information. Of those adults who seek healthinformation online, only 39% use social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook to find healthinformation (Lenhart, 2009).Research related to social networking sites and health has addressed the role of social networkingsites in: providing social and emotional support (Ahmed, Sullivan, Schneiders, & Mccroy, 2010;Bender, Jimenez-Marroquin, & Jasas, 2011; Greene, Choudhry, Kilabuk, & Shrank, 2010; Olsen &Kraft, 2009), providing gu idance (Ahmed et al., 2010; Greene et al., 2010), facilitating behaviorchange interventions (Munson, Lauterbach, Newman, & Resnick, 2010; Olsen & Kraft, 2009), con-necting individuals to resources (Ralph, Berglas, S chwart z, & Brindis, 2011), fundraising (Benderet al., 2011), and raising awarenes s (Bender et al ., 20 11). Howe ve r, few stu dies ha ve look ed at th erole social networking sites play in disseminati ng health information or promoting healthy behaviorsdespite thei r potential to deliver he alth messages to large audiences and the relative openness peoplehave in receiving health information from s ocia l networking sites (Scanfeld, Scanfeld, & Larson,2010; Uhrig, Bann, Williams, & Evans, 2010). This is particularly true f or fitness-related topicswhereareported55% are open to that information as opposed to only 20% for hea rt disease-relatedinformation (Uhrig et al., 2010).With over 500 million active users, Facebook is currently the most widely used social networkingsite across the globe (www.facebook.com/statistics). Because millions use Facebook, organizations ofall types have flocked to the site, opening corporate accounts and creating profiles to reach users, withan estimated 70% of retailers now on Facebook or MySpace (Martinez,


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