What Harvard Says About Patients on Facebook

Author: Stacey Homan

Continuing on our Facebook post,  last week Harvard published “Online Social Networking by Patients with Diabetes: A Qualitative Evaluation of Communication with Facebook”.  The study found patients with diabetes, family members, and their friends use Facebook to share personal clinical information, to request disease-specific guidance and feedback, and to receive emotional support.  Several key points include:

  • Approximately 67% of posts included unsolicited sharing of diabetes management strategies.
  • Almost 29% of posts featured an effort by the poster to provide emotional support to others as members of a community.
  • Approximately 27% of posts featured some type of promotional activity, generally presented as testimonials advertising non-FDA approved, “natural” products.
  • Over 13% of posts provided specific feedback to information requested by other users.
  • 13% of posts contained requests for personal information from Facebook participants.
  • 3% of all of posts contained inappropriate or unsupported therapeutic claims, 36% of these posts related to advertisements for non-FDA approved products.

Think of how much time and money we as an industry spend on Google with SEO and AdWords.  Facebook has now surpassed Google as the top internet destination as of August 2010 and clearly your patients are looking for information and support and in some cases receiving misleading claims.

You also want to make sure you don’t run afoul of the FDA. The FDA’s warning letters concerning Internet marketing are well known. The letters focus on risk communication, minimization of risk or omission of risk. Before you launch your Facebook page, become familiar with the FDA guidance.

Although you may not be in the position at this moment to jump into a Facebook campaign, your marketing department should be looking toward the future at the possibilities contained within Facebook.  Creating a page is easier than you may think!

To keep up with the best in Good Promotional Practices, subscribe to our GPP RSS feed, our Facebook page, our Twitter stream or our LinkedIn group.

Related Links:

FDA’s Guidance for Industry – Presenting Risk Information in Prescription and Drug and Medical Device Promotion

Complete abridged guide to FDA social media guidance and regulation

Brigham and Women’s Hospital News Facebook Page

2 responses to “What Harvard Says About Patients on Facebook

  1. Really nice post,thank you, best website ever

  2. Great work keep it coming

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