What Pew’s Generations Study Says About Health Communications Trends

The Pew Generations 2010 study offers some interesting food for thought for those in charge of employee health communications.

1. Health information tops the online activities chart

What used to be the domain of older folks is now the third most popular online activity for all users age 18 or older, placing behind such routine, everyday activities as “e-mail” and “search.” (Reports of e-mail’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.)

Employers can make it easier for their employees to find trusted, credible information by making their own benefits and wellness sites more content rich and easier to navigate. but not every employee’s going to feel comfortable strolling through the company’s site — or even the insurers’ — for personal health information.

That doesn’t mean there’s not a role for the employer. They can take other avenues, such as providing a links page or online directory organized by health interest and issue.

2. Social networks are hot

Social network sites saw the biggest usage change among younger and older Boomers (25 percent change) and Gen X (15 percent). This leap in activity is reflected in the growth of employee wellness social solutions, like Virgin HealthMileslimeade and Shape Up the Nation. Maybe 2011 will be the year when social truly meets employee wellness.

3. Video viewing is up, especially for funny videos

Online video viewing has jumped from 52 percent to 66 percent of all online adults, no doubt fueled by YouTube and the ease of sharing videos via Facebook and other social sharing channels. Not all videos are equal, though. Comedy videos saw the biggest growth in viewership. Remember that when you’re putting together your next benefits video.

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4. Blogging is for grown-ups

iI you’ve been wondering whether your employees would contribute to a health benefits blog or your senior leadership would share their personal health story, there may be answers in this data. Blogging’s pretty low on the overall online activity totem pole, and young people aren’t all that into blogs. But every older generation from Gen X to the Silent Generation is steadily producing. The upward change in blogging doesn’t dip again until you reach the G.I. Generation.

This was originally published on Fran Melmed’s Free-Range Communication blog.


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