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P116: Engaging in Online Communities is Associated with Improvements in Patient Activation

Poster Presenter

      Stephanie Terrey

      • Sr. Director, Patient Experience
      • CorEvitas, LLC
        United States


The aim of this research was to understand the role that online health communities have on patient engagement through assessing patient activation, health care utilization, and health status.


A web-based survey (n=329 new users) was conducted within online health communities of HealthUnlocked. Demographics, engagement, healthcare utilization, health status and patient activation (using Patient Activation Measure) was measured at baseline and 3 months. Daily community usage was captured.


At baseline, HU users had, on average, a moderate activation score of level 3, "taking action but lacking in confidence." The improvement in activation over 3 months of platform use was 2.6 points overall. 1 in 3 respondents had a lower baseline PAM of levels 1 or 2; this group had the highest change in PAM, with an average increase of 5.8 points, a change considered clinically meaningful. Very high engagers used the platform on average 60 days over 3 months, where activation increased the most over 3 months. Overall health care utilization also decreased over the 3 months. Those who engaged most with HU had fewer visits to emergency services at follow-up, although this trend was not seen in other health utilization measures.


This study shows there are important implications for how online health communities can improve health outcomes. Robust evidence on the effectiveness of online health communities as well as their cost-effectiveness could add to the collection of treatments for people living with health conditions. Understanding which functions within online health communities most impact outcomes would be worthy of future investigation.