Study: Health Policy Researchers Slow To Embrace Social Media

June 9, 2014 in News

Health policy researchers’ use of social media as a communications tool remains low, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs, Press Trust of India/Business Standard reports (Press Trust of India/Business Standard, 6/9).

For the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Minnesota and Swarthmore College surveyed 325 health policy researchers who had registered for the 2013 Academy Health Annual Research Meeting about their social media use (Gnadinger, Health Affairs blog, 6/6).

Study Findings

According to the study, health policy researchers favor traditional media sources, such as press releases and interviews, over social media to share their latest research findings.

For example, the study found that:

  • 65% of respondents said they regularly used traditional media channels — such as press releases or media interviews — over the past year to communicate their research findings;
  • About 20% of respondents said they regularly used Facebook and blogs over the past year to communicate their research findings; and
  • 14% of respondents said they regularly used Twitter over the past year to communicate their research findings.

Many of the health policy researchers surveyed said they believed that social media could be an effective way to share research findings. However, they noted several barriers related to the use of social media, such as:

  • Not having the confidence to use social media platforms; and
  • Concerns that their peers and academic institutions have negative perceptions of social media (Press Trust of India/Business Standard, 6/9).

The study also identified a generational divide, with younger respondents more likely to be optimistic about social media’s ability to effectively share research.

The study’s authors noted, “Social media [is] a new and relatively untested tool, but [it has] the potential to create new communication channels between researchers and policy makers to help narrow that [communication] gap” (Health Affairs blog, 6/6).

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