Generational Differences in People Living with Type 2 Diabetes Vis-à-Vis Their Relationship with the Internet

This is the first blog post in a series that discusses the findings from our “State of Type 2 Diabetesresearch report, examining the day-to-day experiences and feelings of people living with type 2 diabetes.

No shocker here: In this era of digital empowerment, there are many ways people living with type 2 diabetes are leveraging the Internet. Researching symptoms. Exploring treatment options. Learning about clinical trials. Joining an online support group.

What is surprising, however, is how online behavior differs across generations. In our recent “State of Type 2 Diabetes” survey, we uncovered when and why people living with type 2 diabetes go online, and how being a boomer, a Gen Xer or a millennial alters their experience.

Below are some of our key findings:

How People Living with Type 2 Diabetes Use the Internet

  • People living with diabetes tend to look for information about type 2 diabetes most often at the time of their diagnosis (48% on a weekly basis), and their searches become less frequent in the years following their diagnosis.
  • The types of online information valuable to people living with type 2 diabetes and the varying importance by generation:

How Generations Differ in Their Feelings About Online Resources

  • Almost half of all people living with type 2 diabetes have a high degree of trust in online information, and value online resources (i.e., health information websites, diabetes medical associations, diabetes community/support groups).
  • Millennials (61%) are most likely to believe it has empowered them to make more informed decisions compared to Gen Xers (54%) and boomers (51%).
  • Millennials (49%) are most likely to say it has helped them cope with fear and anxiety compared to Gen Xers (35%) and boomers (32%).
  • More millennials (42%) report it has inspired them to seek a second opinion compared to Gen Xers (27%) and boomers (24%).

How Generations Differ in How They Engage with Other People Living with Type 2 Diabetes

  • Overall, people living with type 2 diabetes prefer support from people they know in real life (90%) versus people they know online (10%).
  • Millennials (25%) are most likely to value online diabetes communities/support groups (i.e. social media, chat rooms, forums) compared to Gen Xers (20%) and boomers (9%).
  • Millennials (19%) are more likely to get type 2 diabetes support from people they know online compared to Gen Xers (13%) and boomers (5%).
  • More millennials (15%) are making new friends or social connections as a result of living with type 2 diabetes compared to Gen Xers (6%) and boomers (5%).

Implications for Marketing Planning

  1. Organize your digital plan around diagnosis and key treatment decisions, when people living with type 2 diabetes are turning to the Internet for help.
  2. Focus on the whole person, taking generational differences into account when planning strategy, content and rollout for your type 2 diabetes product or service marketing.
  3. Think about millennials as the next generation of people living with type 2 diabetes, and focus heavily on digital to align with their media behaviors.
  4. Improve the authenticity of your content and relatability for Gen Xers and boomers, and build bridges through real stories and targeted social initiatives in order to drive up their trust.

Interested in learning more? Healthline can connect you to the right people at the right time, and help your brand address the realities of the digital consumer journey. Send us an email at advertise@healthline.com for more information.


State of Type 2 Diabetes” is the fifth release as part of the ongoing “State of…” series that explores key disease states affecting the modern health consumer, and uncovers differences across generations in how they use resources and approach their care.

Sign Up Now

Empowering health marketers with consumer insights, social trends, and more. Get the Healthline Insider monthly newsletter.