IVillage Looks To Chief Healthcare Decision-Makers

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Continuing its colonization of niche content areas, iVillage on Thursday debuted its new Health site, which combines medical expertise and original health content with new socially interactive features. The launch is the fourth in a series of such launches, including iVillage's new Entertainment, Food and Astrology sites, and is part of the site-wide redesign, which kicked off in September.

Next month, iVillage plans to launch a Pregnancy & Parenting site, followed by a Beauty & Style destination by early summer. Health was a natural next step for iVillage, according to Jodi Kahn, EVP at the NBC Universal-owned women's Web property.

"Women make 75% of healthcare decisions, and the majority of those women are consulting the Internet for health information," said Kahn. "Designed specifically for women, iVillage Health caters to the chief healthcare decision-maker in every household."

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NBC Universal parent General Electric has signed on as the site's official launch sponsor as part of its broader "Healthymagination" initiative.

The new Health site features hundreds of health-themed community message boards on topics ranging from weight loss to kids' nutrition to breast cancer to birth control.

Women can directly ask the community as well as medical experts for health tips, and anonymously share experiences with others in similar situations.

iVillage Health will also encourage users to engage in "community health challenges," which attempt to galvanize community members around a common goal.

Jennifer Barrett, iVillage's newly appointed health editor, who recently joined from Newsweek, will oversee all content on the site.

The site will also be supported by new partnerships with Cleveland Clinic Hospital and health information resource Healthwise, along with content from existing NBC Universal programming, including "The Biggest Loser" and Oxygen's "Dance Your Ass Off."

To coincide with the launch, iVillage on Thursday released new research conducted by Harris Interactive indicating that women 18-34 go online first with health questions. The reason? The vast majority -- 82% -- report being uncomfortable discussing health concerns with friends and family.

Furthermore, the research found that 62% of respondents were twice as likely to turn to a Web site -- over their own mothers (32%) -- with health concerns or questions that are not extremely serious. Conducted online in mid-February, the study included some 2,618 U.S. adults, of whom 1,342 were women, and 310 were the mothers of one or more children.

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