Study: How Web Changes Patient-Doctor Relationship
Immediately following a doctor's diagnosis, nearly half of consumers report using a search engine to further research their alleged conditions, according to a new study conducted by About.com.
What is driving this behavior? Disconcertingly, only 35% of consumers say they completely trust their doctor's diagnoses, the June study of nearly 1,900 About.com users found.
For better or worse, "the patient-doctor visits are no longer just one way conversations but rather on-going dialogues," the study concludes. "People are going online to educate themselves and confirm doctors' diagnosis."
What does this mean for marketers without a specialization in search? According to the study, respondents said they were interested in ads that make them aware and educate them about different treatment options and symptoms, as well as those that make it easier to speak knowledgeably with doctors and other professionals.
What's more, 57% of participants said an ad with information about certain conditions -- including specific signs and symptoms -- and medication side effects and safety would grab their attention. As a result of seeing a health care ad, over 35% of respondents talked to their doctor and researched the advertised drug in more detail online.
"Visitors are looking for health ads that help educate them about the condition and treatment options," according to the study.
Furthermore, about six months after their doctor's diagnosis with an ongoing condition, over 40% of participants reported searching online for coping/management tips with regard to financial, emotional, and physical matters.
The study canvassed About.com users who visited the site's parenting, health and food channels with a pop-up invitation to participate in a survey. The majority -- 64% -- were female, while 36% were male. The majority were between the ages of 35 and 54 -- 36% -- while 29% were 55 or older, 19% were 18-24, and 16% were between the ages of 25 and 34.