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The Increasing Digital Reliance of Caregivers (Edelman Study)

Senior woman with her caregiver at home Who are the caregivers seeking content to help them make crucial health decisions? How can your brand reach them most effectively?

A January study from Edelman of 1500 adults online provides key insights into the reliance levels, content demands, trust, and sharing practices of digital health information across four groups:

  • Millennials (ages 18-34)
  • The “sandwich” generation (ages 35-64)
  • Seniors (age 65+)
  • Caregivers (those responsible for the health decisions of a parent or other relative who is not a child).

Here’s a specific overview of the Caregiver group from each of the main insight categories identified by Edelman.


Of all demographic and psychographic segments, 56% of Caregivers reported increasing reliance on digital health content, compared with 49% of Millennials and 39% of total respondents. Reasons cited include more available information, increased trust, and efficiency of searching online rather than visiting a doctor.

More than the general populations, Caregivers search for information on medications, treatments, hospitals, and recovery. They’re almost 10% more likely than the average consumer to use the information they find to adjust the health behaviors of those they care for.


All segments, including Caregivers, want detail and control over the information they find. More than in-depth, scientific explanations or shallow overviews, 41% of consumers surveyed want an initial summary with the option to dive more deeply into areas of particular interest.

Video content that all consumers find most relevant and useful deals with medical explanations first, followed by education, graphic details, patient testimonials, and doctor interviews.


Compared with the totals, Caregiver trust in online health content, including owned content, is much higher, as long as the content provider is clear and relevant to the Caregiver’s needs. Caregiver trust is considerably higher in content dealing with patient communities, review sites, social networks, and health insurers. Caregivers will share sponsored content that’s entertaining, but they say informational content does more for changing health behaviors.

Relevant information carries the highest value, followed by any informational content from websites and brands they know and trust who are seen as authorities on the content they publish. Interesting stories, appealing images, video content and entertainment value fall at lower priority levels for all groups.


Caregiver motivations and modes of sharing depend on the nature of the information. In general, Caregivers are even more likely to share information than Millennials, but they’re likelier to do it privately. They’ll publicly share something funny and entertaining. More objective, factual information is more likely to be shared along back channels.

Seventy-six percent of Caregivers shared information by email or private message compared with 70% of Millennials and 60% of the total consumer group. By contrast, only 34% of Caregivers shared information on social media, compared with 44% of Millennials and 22% of the total group.

Edelman recommends five main actions brands can take in light of their survey’s findings:

  1. Develop strategies linking your brand to a cause, to activate the influential Caregiving audience.
  2. Present information objectively and authoritatively, allowing Caregivers to control their own levels of depth and detail.
  3. Create content that’s privately shareable and links back to owned properties.
  4. Cultivate the trust Caregivers place in owned content by engaging and influencing them to adjust health behaviors
  5. Explore ways to measure private sharing of content in order to more accurately measure your brand’s impact.