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

Uriyoan Colon-Ramos, Audie A. Atienza, Deanne Weber, Melissa Taylor, Christina Uy, Amy Yaroch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


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 (n=2,639) were categorized as extensively socially-networked (75+ friends and acquaintances, and almost daily giving friends advice on general issues) vs. non-networked. The networked respondents 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 controlling 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 warranted 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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