Women’s health issues, from the menopause to periods, have traditionally been under-represented in public health discourse and frequently are lacking media and marketing profile. However, in recent months women’s health issues have become far more visible, partly due to some high-profile advocates, but also the result of a shift in behaviour. Thanks to the proliferation of social media platforms and online groups, women are becoming much more vocal about their health and experiences of health issues – a change that can be much better understood by a closer analysis of the data that are available to us.
The menopause, in particular, has been a big talking point so far this year. UK TV presenter Davina McCall is one of several high-profile advocates calling for more candid discourse on the menopause, while British agency AMV BBDO has just won an award for its depiction of the struggles of a menopausal mother and her daughter in “The Lonely Menopause,” an advertising film it created for TENA. In America, actress Naomi Watts is set to launch a new wellness brand that focuses on the perimenopause and menopause with biotech company Amyris later this year, joining a growing number of female entrepreneurs who are developing products aimed at alleviating the array of symptoms women can face.
Away from the spotlight, women are being encouraged to speak more openly about their health issues so that they can learn more about health conditions from each other and their doctors, know where to go for help and support, and feel less isolated as they deal with often harrowing conditions and events, such as endometriosis and miscarriage.
Data from the Talking Medicines PatientMetRx® platform show that more and more women are talking about their medicines and other aspects of their illness with others who have similar conditions as they search – often desperately – for the right treatment options.
While menopause has been high on the news agenda it is not the only condition women have been discussing. Our data have shown that women facing immunological disorders, such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, are increasingly using social media platforms to share their experiences with others to gain important insights about available medicines and treatment options. The data shows that social media posts related to immunology are more likely to be detailed and descriptive than posts on other disease areas, such as oncology or cardiovascular disease, further underscoring the need for healthcare marketeers to listen intently to the lived experience of those sharing online.
However, this trend is not ubiquitous. Data from one particular breast cancer medicine indicate there is still a reluctance amongst postmenopausal women to discuss the specifics of their health on social media, despite actively using these platforms to connect with friends, family, and their broader networks on a range of other topics. It is important for healthcare marketeers to understand why this group is reluctant to discuss their health and put their needs at the center of marketing efforts.
Through close analysis of the conversations taking place among women, it’s becoming easier to understand the stark difference that visibility of a women’s health issues can play in the willingness of patients to discuss their experiences. Through a better understanding of these links, it should become increasingly easier for healthcare marketeers to develop strategies which can help to overcome these barriers by putting patients at the heart of their brand strategies.
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