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A Proactive Approach to Health

"Does Health Matter?

A Study on the Use of Social Media for Health"


Reka Anna Lassu- Universita della Svizzera italiana



“The most sophisticated and effective health care in the world cannot produce results as good as simply remaining healthy in the first place.”


–Robert G. Evans (Evans, 1994 p.21)  



This research aims to understand how Swiss residents interact with Facebook, YouTube,  and Twitter in general and for health. Moreover, its goal is to see what these people’s health characteristics are like and how these relate to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter use for health content. To also provide a practical application, the research aims to determine if Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter could be used for health promotion among Swiss residents. Lastly, the research aims to determine what factors predict whether one is familiar with Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter for health content, as well as whether one interacts with a health group on Facebook, watches health videos on YouTube, and follows a health group on Twitter.

In order to explain the context of the research, the question “Does Health Matter?” is explored and the foundation is made for why health is so important and pertinent to all areas of life. Moreover, the increasingly difficult role of individuals to stay healthy in a health system that is full of challenges is outlined and a proposal is made for how value could be delivered through aligning value in the health system among all stakeholders.

Then, the field of Health Communication on the Internet is addressed and the successful actions of e‐patients who have become empowered though using Internet Communication is explained. Nowadays, since the newest way of communicating online is through social media, the Social Media Revolution is introduced and the sites of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are specifically highlighted. Lastly, the specific role of social media in the health context is examined.

The aforementioned two parts set the stage for the review of several prominent studies in the field of social media and health. These are discussed in detail and conclusions are drawn upon which the present study is designed, performed, and analyzed.


This research was presented at the Master's defense:

Master's Thesis Defense- Reka Anna Lassu


14 December, 2011


Lugano, Switzerland

"The Institute of Communication and Health, founded in 2007, is a heavily research-oriented institution that operates to a large degree on external funding.


On the side of teaching, it contributes to the University’s bachelor programme, to a Master in Communication, Management and Health (in collaboration with Virginia Tech University) and a doctoral school in Communication and Health within the Pro*Doc programme of the Swiss National Fund, in cooperation with three other Swiss universities and Virginia Tech.


Research at ICH comprises three focal areas at present:


  • Area 1: Health Literacy and Empowerment

  • Area 2: Technologies and Doctor–Patient Interaction

  • Area 3: Cultural Factors in Health Promotion"

Food for Thought:


The Journey of My Master's Thesis- "Does Health Matter? A Study on the Use of Social Media for Health"

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