Practicing what they preach: Health behaviors of those who provide health advice to extensive social networks

  • Colon-Ramos U
  • Atienza A
  • Weber D
 et al. 
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As a way of identifying a conduit to disseminate health information, this study aims to explore health behaviors and attitudes of a unique group of extensively socially- networked individuals who regularly are asked for their health advice. Respondents from a population-based consumer opinion panel (n¼2,639) were categorized as ‘‘extensively socially-networked’’ (75þ friends and acquaintances, and almost daily giving friends advice on general issues) vs. ‘‘non-networked.’’ The networked respon- dents were further divided into ‘‘health-networked’’ (regularly asked for health advice) versus ‘‘only-socially-networked’’ groups (asked for general advice, not health). Chi-square analyses, ANOVA tests, and multivariate regressions control- ling for sociodemographic variables compared health behaviors and attitudes between groups. Results indicated that health-networked individuals reported more positive health behaviors (e.g., fruit and vegetable consumption) and attitudes than only-socially-networked and non-networked individuals. Future research is war- ranted to elucidate how providing health advice to a large network contributes to the positive health of health-networked individuals. Exploratory analyses revealed that doctors and health=fitness magazines were main sources of health and nutrition information for health-networked respondents. Through their advice and word- of-mouth, health-networked individuals have the potential to influence the health information of large groups of people and, therefore, may serve as valuable change agents to disseminate health and nutrition information.

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  • Uriyoan Colon-Ramos

  • Audie A. Atienza

  • Deanne Weber

  • Melissa Taylor

  • Christina Uy

  • Amy Yaroch

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