Wiser health decisions may be an add-on advantage of social networking sites, experts opine.
However, the report published in the Journal of Consumer Research, makes it clear that health benefits depend on peoples' choice to act upon such online information.
Authors of the report Rama K. Jayanti from the Cleveland State University and Jagdip Singh from Case Western Reserve University write that the online community "facilitates learning by collectively transforming everyday individual experiences into usable knowledge."
They add: "We found that the community can collectively enable learning for individual members who often fail and falter on their own."
Furthermore, they say that people often share their health-related experiences online and increase the range of actions that have an effect on their health.
They noted: "Together these characteristics transformed helpless individuals into empowered patients who effortlessly changed physicians, switched medications, and modified diets."
However, they are quick to point out that "Productive inquiry alone is not sufficient to empower individuals.... Community inquiry broadens the action choices available to its members. Action, however, is an individual choice."