Cultivating Community Engagement Through Authentic Emotional Support


Healthline Media’s history and deep understanding of audiences is the foundation for cultivating communities that empower members to engage deeply over time.

Living with a chronic condition can be an isolating experience. Healthline Media’s audience insights reveal that 44% of those living with a health condition feel as though others don’t understand their condition or experience.

If health brands and marketers are aiming to empower and engage chronic condition audiences, we need to provide spaces where they can build meaningful connections and feel seen, valued, and understood.

In the Search for Community, Emotional Support Is the Primary Motivator

Our audience research suggests that a core motivation for people living with a chronic condition is to feel as if they are not alone and to learn from others’ experiences.

Individuals diagnosed with chronic conditions are frequently stressed or overwhelmed. Top stressors like relationships (53%), mental health (43%), and loneliness (40%) signal a need for interpersonal connection and a feeling of community.

With those insights in hand, we at Healthline Media believe it’s our responsibility — and the industry’s as a whole — to cultivate communities where those living with chronic conditions can feel safe and express their authentic selves without fear of judgment. This kind of environment allows peers to support, empower, and inform each other, driving deeper engagement and connection.

Audiences Look for Information in the Context of Emotional Connection

The best communities offer both emotional support and rigorous informational resources. However, our research shows that emotional connection is the most powerful motivating force for those living with chronic conditions, which influences the types of information they find most compelling.

They want stories like theirs that they can connect with and support from their peers who are on similar journeys.

  • 70% of people who use online health communities do so with emotional support and inspiration as their primary reason. 

  • They are 8% more interested in personal experiences than those without a condition.

  • They are also 15% less likely to care about science-based advice than personal stories.

These insights don’t mean that information should be ignored completely. It simply means that the information must first be rooted in providing emotional support. Health information should be framed through personal experiences and stories, one-on-one interactions, and other content formats that inspire and engage. For those living with chronic conditions:

  • 30% want positive or inspirational messages.

  • 1 out of 4 want online meetings with condition experts.

  • 1 out of 3 want reminders to engage in helpful practices.

This emotional engagement often comes from within communities themselves. According to a 2018 study of online communities of people with long-term conditions, the more active users became, the more likely they were to reply to other users’ posts than to write new ones or browse, shifting from a help-seeking role to a help-giving role. 

In some cases, this higher level of engagement leads some community members to move fully into the role of a content creator, becoming a spokesperson for their chronic condition community, and a source of both emotional connection and accurate information.

How Healthline Media and Bezzy Are Rising to the Occasion

When looking to tap into audiences living with chronic conditions and deepen their engagement, health marketers should:

  • Give focus to communities founded on empathy and emotional connection and reinforced by rigorous health information.

  • Align with partners who ensure messaging speaks to people at every stage of their experience, from diagnosis and beyond.

  • Find brands that are establishing communities as safe spaces with high levels of trust so that your messaging reaches them in the right context.

Healthline Media’s history and deep understanding of audiences is the foundation for cultivating communities that empower members to engage deeply on an ongoing basis and at every stage of their journey.

Our audience insights help us discern why individuals with chronic conditions seek and engage with communities and the factors that play a major role in activating that engagement. Through this understanding, we can better align with their needs, reach them where they are, and cultivate deeper engagement.

This is the driving force behind Bezzy, a new platform that creates chronic condition spaces for shared vulnerability, connection, and learning all woven into one. 

Visit or contact us if you’d like to learn more about how Healthline Media is cultivating deep community engagement for those living with chronic conditions.

SOURCE: Healthline Media PIL studies, 2019-2020. Insights based on research among people living with rheumatoid arthritis (N=756), psoriasis (N=608), psoriatic arthritis (N=432) Crohn's (N=300), ulcerative colitis (N=400), breast cancer (N=505), and Leukemia (N=179)

SOURCE: Healthline Media Landscape Segmentation Study, Dec 2020. Insights based among 88 people living with one of 7 chronic conditions.

SOURCE: Bezzy Audience survey, June 2021. Insights based among 992 Healthline Media app and site users living with one of 7 conditions.

SOURCE: COVID-19 Qualitative Research. (May 2020). Insights based on 49 respondents living with chronic conditions.

About Healthline Media

As the #1 health media property in the US, Healthline Media reaches more than 94MM unique visitors each month (Comscore, August 2021). We provide credible health information with a compassionate approach.