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Data check by Craig Stoltz

Craig Stoltz
is a web consultant working in the health 2.0 space. He has previously
served as health editor for the Washington Post and editorial director
of Revolution Health. He blogs at Web 2.0 … Oh really?

New comScore data suggest that about 30 percent of women
consider user-generated content on the web when making decisions about
birth control methods. Twenty-three percent said they wouldn’t consider UGC,
and 46 percent said they’d consider it but haven’t tried the chat/forum method.

The data make sense. With a whole new wave of birth control
products on the market—including drugs that permit women to have menstrual
periods monthly, quarterly, or even once per year (!)—women are checking with
those who have been there/done that for some straight talk.

UGC can let sisters do it for themselves—at least with a new
form of a product women have been using for years, and is heavily advertised with
direct to consumers suggesting it’s a lifestyle choice rather than a medical

The survey, like so many, was done on behalf of pharma
companies. The back story raises familiar questions about UGC with consumer

Hmmm… pharma companies learn that a majority of women either
are using or would consider UGC to make decisions. So let’s see, what’s a more
effective method of reaching these women, more direct-to-consumer advertising
or a posse of online “brand ambassadors” and “superusers” who slyly create UGC
on behalf of drugs?

The implication, well known to students of 2.0 marketing, is
clear. In the world of UGC, it can be hard to tell the difference between a girlfriend
and a pill shill.

Which is why it’s good to know this: The same survey found
that for medical information generally, women still turn to healthcare
professionals over the web by a margin of 82 to 60 percent. For these
potentially more serious matters, only 51 percent turn to friends and family.

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