Smart Friends, Heathy Life

By: Andy Levitt

Remember the ad campaign, "Friends don't let friends drive drunk"?  Well, it looks like those same friends are doing more than just keeping you from getting a DUI - they're actually keeping you healthy.

This past Sunday, the New York Times published Better Health, With a Little Help From Our Friends.  The article discusses the role and impact that friends can have on each other, highlighting data from a new study that shows how conversations can influence one's levels of health and happiness.

The content in this article is highly consistent with the data we have seen in our programs over the years.  The theory holds true across a range of therapeutic categories, as well.  And while we may not be measuring health outcomes, per se, we do know that the people who participate in our programs are having 'somewhat more' or 'significantly more' conversations than before they joined.  In fact, you can download our recent case study to see the results from that data.

What's even more compelling is that these types of conversations tend to be highly persuasive in nature, due to the fact that people are spreading the word because they care (not because they are being compensated).  Compare that to the impact from passive television ads, billboards or other interruption marketing techniques, and the differences are quite pronounced.  In fact, recommendations from friends and family remains the most trusted of sources, so it's no wonder that there is sincere interest in harnessing social networks to promote and improve public health.

We're looking forward to seeing the impact from the ongoing research.  We also hope that our data might prove useful as a subset to further the broader understanding of how friends can influence others.