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19-11-2012 | Legal medicine | Article

Internet best method to communicate health messages to baby boomers


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medwireNews: Communicating health information to the "baby boomer" generation might best be done via the internet, especially once they have hit 50, and then 65 years of age, suggest US researchers.

The early 50s mark a clear change in attitudes toward health among the baby boomers we studied, said co-author of the study Katey Price (Ohio State University, Columbus, USA) in a press statement.

"This would be a great time to reach boomers with messages about how to improve and protect their health," she added, from the annual meeting of the National Communication Association in Orlando, Florida, where she presented the study.

The findings emerge from a sample of 477 so-called baby boomers - individuals born after the second world war, between 1946 and 1964 - who completed an online questionnaire on their perceived importance of 18 health information needs, their utilization of 10 sources of health information, and their use of eight types of communication, explain Price and team.

Seven health information needs were revealed as the most important, and included eyes, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, nutrition/weight management, and high blood pressure.

Healthcare professionals were the most common source of health information for participants followed by the internet, with the internet the most frequently used medium in general, note the researchers.

"The internet is the key to delivering health information to baby boomers," said lead author John Dimmick, also from Ohio State University, in the press statement.

"In order to effectively reach baby boomers, we need to have websites designed to furnish information on the health issues rated most important by boomers," he added.

The research team investigated how rating health concerns varied with age, with two notable "peaks" of interest occurring at 51 and 65 years.

"Fifty is the age Americans are told they need to undergo a variety of health screenings," commented Dimmick, including colonoscopies and mammograms. "People really start paying attention to their health when they are encouraged to get all of these various screening tests."

He also suggested that since 65 years is the age people are "generally thought of as senior citizens," it is also when they start thinking again about the possibility of their health declining.

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter

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