Global Practices

The Social Nature of Health in China



On average, patients in China have about 3 minutes with their doctor during a routine visit, and doctors often see more than 100 patients each day.

Compare that to the nearly 3 hours that netizens spend online every day and it’s easy to understand why there is a growing reliance on social networks for health information.

In fact, more than three in four people in China cite friends and family as credible sources of health-related information—ranking higher than pharmacists, nutritionists or academic experts and second only to doctors, according to the Edelman Health Barometer. The China number is significantly higher than the 55 percent who cite friends and family as credible sources globally.

Health-related TV programs, such as 36.7°C in Shanghai, which invites local celebrities and well-known doctors to talk about health topics, continue to be popular among the middle-age population. Increasingly, however, people are turning to top health sites like Sohu Health and, which regularly see more than 10 million page views and 2 million visitors daily.

In China there is growing demand for top quality healthcare services among a thriving middle class, coupled with a healthcare system undergoing significant reform. Add to that a growing digital-savvy generation with a voracious appetite for information and the opportunity becomes clear: How can we arm citizens with credible health information and resources to help them take healthy actions?

One good way to start is to create meaningful educational or informational content and encourage community engagement to share resources, stories and support, both online and offline.

Rebecca Slotnick is senior director of the healthcare practice for Edelman China. She moved to Shanghai in July 2011 after seven years with Edelman in New York.

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