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­sing Online Health Forums to Serve ­nderserved Communities

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University of California, Riverside professor of computer science and engineering Vagelis Hristidis.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have found that the use of social media and online health forums differs by gender and age.

A team from the University of California, Riverside, has conducted research on how people use social media and online health forums.

Studying,, WebMD, Google+, and Twitter, the researchers from UC Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering report men and women use the sites for different purposes. Women tend to use drug review sites and health forums to talk about specific conditions, while men often turn to Google+ and Twitter to share and comment on health news and healthcare policy.

Age also is a factor in the frequency of use of social platforms and discussion forums. "Few people over 65 are participating in such forums when one would expect that, given that they have more health problems, they would be more active on these forums," says UC Riverside professor Vagelis Hristidis. "We also found that in places with more access to doctors and fewer uninsured people, people go more frequently to healthcare forums, although one might think that lack of healthcare access would make people use these forums more."

In addition, medically underserved communities tend to use the sites less than other groups.

The results could be used to reach out to specifics groups, says the team.

From University of California, Riverside
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