HealthDecember 21, 2022

Content nurses find influential differs from content they use to remain current: a marketer’s guide

Healthcare marketers must understand whether nursing content is influential or simply keeps nurses up to date to engage nurses successfully with advertising.

When it comes to professional resources in nursing, not all content is created equal. Nurses’ perceptions of content they consider “influential” differs greatly from their perceptions of content they use to “keep up to date.” Nurses’ opinions about which type of content falls under which of the two categories are notably distinctive, according to findings from a recent Wolters Kluwer survey.

For example, although nurses often reference free medical and nursing websites to keep themselves up to date, they consistently rank peer-reviewed journal content and open-access peer-reviewed journal content higher in terms of the influence those resources have on how they treat their patients.

Marketers must take note of these differences if they hope to position their messaging successfully. In this article, we identify which types of content fall under which of the two categories, based on a recent survey of nurses about their content consumption preferences. We also identify opportunities for marketers hoping to engage nurses in these environments through compelling, contextually relevant advertising.

About our nursing survey

Wolters Kluwer conducted an online survey of 1,135 nurses in September 2022. Researchers obtained the survey sample from Wolters Kluwer’s internal list of nurses. Respondents were incentivized with the chance to win one of two personal gift items or the roughly cash equivalent of a $300 gift card.

Respondents included staff, advanced practice, managing, and executive nurses from teaching hospitals, nonteaching hospitals, and private practices. Most nurses in the study had 11 or more years of professional experience.

Timely news and podcasts keep nurses “up to date”

In the context of the survey, “keeping up to date” describes how nurses stay abreast of the latest research and information about their specialties or how they access research and information to help them study or teach their particular educational topics.

Nurses were asked their opinions about more than a dozen resources with varying levels of curation and prestige. In addition to peer-reviewed journals and case studies that most nurses find “influential,” nurses were asked their opinions of email newsletters, social media content, and podcasts, among others. Nurses’ responses show a clear distinction between content most nurses consider influential and content most nurses use to keep up to date in their fields.

For example, nearly one-quarter (24.6%) of nurses use podcasts to keep themselves up to date on the latest research and information about their specialties. But nurses don’t rank podcasts as very influential compared to peer-reviewed resources or resources driven by clinical data.

Notably, nursing podcasts aren’t necessarily published in the context of formal or prestigious medical online domains. Half of the nurses who use podcasts access them via YouTube, and more than one-third access podcasts directly from those podcasts’ source websites. This distinguishes podcasts from peer-reviewed content, for example.

Similarly, 69% of nurses source free medical and free nursing websites to keep themselves up to date on the latest research and information about their specialties; and 58.9% use CME/CE activities for this purpose. Nurses also distinguish these resources from curated, peer-reviewed, and data-driven content that they identify as influential compared to these other sources.

How should marketers approach content nurses use to stay professionally updated?

Although free medical websites, free nursing websites, and podcasts don’t necessarily feature meticulous clinical or peer-reviewed findings, they do offer nurses timely information. Each piece of content is short lived, often losing its newsworthiness over several weeks or even days. But these publications are access points for nurses’ daily content habits. Content such as podcasts, free medical and nursing websites, and others, therefore, represent meaningful opportunities to engage nurses regularly, with contextually relevant, nonintrusive messaging that keeps marketers’ brands consistently top-of-mind.

However, nurses may allocate less time per sitting to these content types compared to peer-reviewed journal articles and clinical studies that require more time and effort to absorb. Advertisements that are lengthy, complex, or out of context may be less effective than ads that convey a feeling, serve as a reminder, or simply invite nurses to explore more.

Influential content directly impacts care

In the context of the survey, “influential” means “influential on treatment options and improving patient outcomes.” This is noticeably distinguished from content that simply helps nurses “keep up to date.”

Nurses consistently rank peer-reviewed content (64.4%), real case studies (64.4%), and clinical reviews (62.2%) high in terms of influence; comparatively, only 24.4% of nurses consider free content (i.e., free medical nursing websites) influential, even though they prefer those sources to keep themselves up to date. Notably, most (55.1%) consider peer-reviewed journal content their most influential or second-most influential content type, but only 20.6% perceive content published by free nursing websites in these ways.

How should marketers approach “influential” content?

Marketers hoping to engage nurses in these spaces need to be thoughtful in their approach. That is, marketers must strive to understand why nurses are accessing and engaging with peer-reviewed journal articles or other influential content and how they intend to use it before determining the right messaging for those environments.

For example, marketers may consider how their messages can provide nurses with access to more engaging or convenient resources that enable them to quickly and easily apply the content they’re consuming in a meaningful way. This is especially important because nurses continue to use peer-reviewed journal content, real case studies, and clinical reviews, among others, to inform real clinical decision-making.

Know your content

The nature of a publication’s content impacts how nurses perceive advertising within those publications. Marketers must strive to understand why nurses are accessing and engaging with content and then adapt their messaging so that it appears contextually relevant within those spaces. Marketers’ messaging may be appropriate for either or both environments, but their messaging should make sense in those contexts.

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