Defining the “Wow Factor” of Online Communities for Social Health

Defining the “Wow Factor” of Online Communities for Social Health

You’ve likely heard the maxim “all healthcare is local.” But a recent Forbes article suggests this will soon shift to “all healthcare is social” and I agree.

The benefits of strong social health are plentiful. Socially connected people tend to have lower blood pressure and improved immune function, among other health benefits. Social connections can also generate physical and psychological advantages that boost the quality and length of someone’s life.

Fortunately, social support doesn’t always need to be in person to be effective.

In fact, the availability of a more extensive, more diverse social network through the Internet may provide better-matched and more sustained support than “offline” networks, particularly for those who feel they lack support among family and friends.

The change, flux, and persistence of long-term members in online communities means there is always someone available for support.

Social health and support for tobacco addiction

There is a growing evidence base that individuals interacting in social settings around their disease facilitates adherence and improves self-care.

Our research on the EX Community, a thriving online community for current and former smokers, has also shown equally powerful benefits of social connection.

We have found:

  • Smokers who are active in an online community are more than twice as likely to quit as smokers who did not participate in the community. This effect was strongest for those who actively posted and engaged with other members.
  • We’ve also seen that even lurking or just reading other posts in an online community increases the odds of quitting.

A unique aspect about the EX Community, compared to other online communities, is how it provides real-time answers to the questions and concerns that smokers have. We’ve found that all posts have replies within about 12 minutes. There’s just no other treatment modality that can provide this kind of support.


snapshot of the EX Community that illustrates the impact on social health

An online social support system that users love

The “wow factor” of the EX Community is visible through member posts daily. Our community is an online social space that users love and call home. For many, it’s the first place they go online in the morning, and it’s the last site they visit before going to sleep.

Here are a few recent examples of how this community warmly welcomes and supports one another to quit tobacco and stay quit.

Interested in learning more about how online communities can be the X factor in social health to help smokers overcome tobacco addiction? Download “The EX Factor for Total Wellbeing (and Social Connectedness).”

Jessie Saul, Ph.D.
Jessie Saul, Ph.D.

Client Success Director

Dr. Jessie Saul brings 16 years of experience in program evaluation and strategic planning with tobacco cessation. She applies this deep understanding to help clients improve program performance and reduce tobacco use among populations. She earned her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University.

Human Resources Today