Ogilvy Healthworld questioned 1,800 adults who had seen a doctor in the past three months in six countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and US. About 1,100 of these took prescription medicines every day.
According to the research, while healthcare professionals remain an important source of information, almost as many people are now turning to the web, as to their doctor, for information. Almost 80 per cent of the population use the internet to research their health because of its 'anonymity, convenience and quantity of information available', according to the New Expert Patient Generation report, which is the agency's latest thought-leadership publication.
'Pharma needs to harness the power of the internet,' said Ogilvy Healthworld UK digital business director June Dawson. 'Healthcare communicators need to review the balance of investment in patient versus healthcare comms. Although the key influencers are still important, personal networks, online and offline, are becomingly increasingly critical.'
The report also found that two-thirds of patients had actively sought more information than they had been given about a medicine they had been prescribed. One in ten would ask their doctor to change their medication if they felt it was the best choice.
'Integrated approaches to campaigns are key,' said Dawson. 'Clients and agencies should consider the increasingly important role patients play in their own health care.'