Porter Novelli

At Porter Novelli, we talk a lot about how important it is to be guided by a “deep, data-driven understanding of what makes people think and act the way they do.” Our key to unlocking many of these insights is Porter Novelli Styles. For nearly 20 years, our Styles research has provided us and our clients with unmatched insight into how consumers think, make decisions and act.  We survey more than 6,000 consumers every year, tracking their attitudes, lifestyle values, purchasing behaviors, technology use and traditional and social media use.

So as the health care debate continues (politics aside, of course), we looked to Styles to understand how consumers make health care decisions. We found that consumers fall into four key segments based on how actively they seek health information, and the extent to which they rely on health care professionals for managing their health.

  • Personal Health Advocates (37% of the population): These active and independent health information seekers are the most engaged of all consumers, and place a high value on health information and prevention efforts. They work collaboratively with their health care professionals, but retain decision-making authority for themselves. They are most open to making changes in their lives as compared to others, and are very receptive to practical strategies for doing so. Women are more likely than men to fall into this segment.
  • Attentive Patients (18% of the population): As active information seekers, these consumers also value health information, but rely on their trusted health care professionals to tell them what they need to know. They tend to have a difficult time understanding health information, so educational resources and tools must be available in very accessible and easy-to-understand ways. These doctor-dependent consumers tend to be older and less educated than other groups.
  • Doctor Led (9%):  A small group of consumers fall into a category of those who are not interested in health information and prevention, but who trust health care professionals. In contrast to the other doctor-dependent segment, these passive, doctor-dependent consumers tend to be young. Targeted outreach to health care professionals can be most effective for reaching and influencing these consumers.
  • Disengaged (36% of the population): This group of consumers represents the most challenging to engage in health communications. They do not actively seek out health information, and generally avoid interaction with health care professionals. They are very capable of understanding health information, but need to clearly recognize a cost of not paying attention. Men are more likely than women to fall into this category.


This deeper understanding of how different consumers manage their health has been helping us guide our clients’ health communications for years. What insights can we help uncover for you?