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How nonprofits are using Twitter to boost health literacy

An estimated one in five Americans use social media websites as a source of health-care information. Now recent research published in the Journal of Health Communication suggests online tools such as Twitter can effectively help nonprofit health organizations raise public awareness about health-care issues.

The small study examined 571 tweets from health-related organizations. Among the findings were that 30 percent of health-related tweets were retweeted by users - hence increasing the audience for the health messages. Researchers determined the type of dynamic and multidirectional communication on social media sites holds great potential for health-related organizations to share resources and foster public discussion. Study author Hyojung Park, a doctoral candidate at the Missouri School of Journalism, said in a release:

Recent studies have shown that most social media users want organizations to be actively involved in social media and to communicate and engage the users directly. Nonprofit health groups do a great job of this, which helps them communicate their health messages and, ultimately, to increase health literacy in the community.

Previously: How patients use social media to foster support systems, connect with physicians, How health-care providers are using social media to build connections with patients and The power of networked patients

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