Social media is playing an increasingly important role as the sources of health related information. The goal of this study is to investigate the extent social media appear in search engine results in the context of health-related information search. We simulate an information seeker’s use of a search engine for health consultation using a set of pre-defined keywords in combination with 5 types of complaints. The results showed that social media constitute a significant part of the search results, indicating that search engines likely direct information seekers to social media sites. This study confirms the growing importance of social media in health communication. It also provides evidence regarding opportunities and challenges faced by health professionals and general public.


Social media analytics, Disease surveillance, Health informatics, Public health service


ISBN: [978-1-86435-644-1]; Full paper