Posted in #HCSM, Abstract

Social media use among patients and caregivers [BMJ Open. 2013]


To map the state of the existing literature evaluating the use of social media in patient and caregiver populations.


Studies reporting primary research on the use of social media (collaborative projects, blogs/microblogs, content communities, social networking sites, virtual worlds) by patients or caregivers.

Two reviewers screened studies for eligibility; one reviewer extracted data from relevant studies and a second performed verification for accuracy and completeness on a 10% sample. Data were analysed to describe which social media tools are being used, by whom, for what purpose and how they are being evaluated.


Two hundred eighty-four studies were included. Discussion forums were highly prevalent and constitute 66.6% of the sample. Social networking sites (14.8%) and blogs/microblogs (14.1%) were the next most commonly used tools. The intended purpose of the tool was to facilitate self-care in 77.1% of studies. While there were clusters of studies that focused on similar conditions (eg, lifestyle/weight loss (12.7%), cancer (11.3%)), there were no patterns in the objectives or tools used. A large proportion of the studies were descriptive (42.3%); however, there were also 48 (16.9%) randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Among the RCTs, 35.4% reported statistically significant results favouring the social media intervention being evaluated; however, 72.9% presented positive conclusions regarding the use of social media.


There is an extensive body of literature examining the use of social media in patient and caregiver populations. Much of this work is descriptive; however, with such widespread use, evaluations of effectiveness are required. In studies that have examined effectiveness, positive conclusions are often reported, despite non-significant findings.

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Posted in Abstract, mHealth

Mapping mHealth Research: A Decade of Evolution

Maddalena Fiordelli, PhD; Nicola Diviani, PhD; Peter J Schulz, PhD

Institute of Communication and Health, Faculty of Communication Sciences, University of Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland


For the last decade, mHealth has constantly expanded as a part of eHealth. Mobile applications for health have the potential to target heterogeneous audiences and address specific needs in different situations, with diverse outcomes, and to complement highly developed health care technologies. The market is rapidly evolving, making countless new mobile technologies potentially available to the health care system; however, systematic research on the impact of these technologies on health outcomes remains scarce.
Objective: To provide a comprehensive view of the field of mHealth research to date and to understand whether and how the new generation of smartphones has triggered research, since their introduction 5 years ago. Specifically, we focused on studies aiming to evaluate the impact of mobile phones on health, and we sought to identify the main areas of health care delivery where mobile technologies can have an impact.


A systematic literature review was conducted on the impact of mobile phones and smartphones in health care. Abstracts and articles were categorized using typologies that were partly adapted from existing literature and partly created inductively from publications included in the review.


The final sample consisted of 117 articles published between 2002 and 2012. The majority of them were published in the second half of our observation period, with a clear upsurge between 2007 and 2008, when the number of articles almost doubled. The articles were published in 77 different journals, mostly from the field of medicine or technology and medicine. Although the range of health conditions addressed was very wide, a clear focus on chronic conditions was noted. The research methodology of these studies was mostly clinical trials and pilot studies, but new designs were introduced in the second half of our observation period. The size of the samples drawn to test mobile health applications also increased over time. The majority of the studies tested basic mobile phone features (eg, text messaging), while only a few assessed the impact of smartphone apps. Regarding the investigated outcomes, we observed a shift from assessment of the technology itself to assessment of its impact. The outcome measures used in the studies were mostly clinical, including both self-reported and objective measures.


Research interest in mHealth is growing, together with an increasing complexity in research designs and aim specifications, as well as a diversification of the impact areas. However, new opportunities offered by new mobile technologies do not seem to have been explored thus far. Mapping the evolution of the field allows a better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and can inform future developments.

(J Med Internet Res 2013;15(5):e95)

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Posted in #HCSM, Abstract

Illness narratives in contemporary healthcare


Illness narratives play a central role in social studies of health and illness, serving as both a key theoretical focus and a popular research method. Despite this, relatively little work has gone into conceptualising how and why illness narratives – be they in books, websites, television or other media – are commodified in contemporary healthcare and its social environment; namely, how distinctive forms of value are generated in the production, circulation, use and exchange of illness narratives. In this article we propose the notion of biographical value as a first step towards conceptualising the values attributed to illness narratives in this context. Based on a secondary analysis of 37 interviews with people affected by 15 different health conditions in the UK (all of whom have shared their illness experiences across various media) and drawing on understandings of value in research on the bioeconomy and the concept of biovalue in particular, we sketch out how epistemic, ethical and economic forms of value converge and co-constitute each other in the notion of biographical value and in broader economies of illness experiences.

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Posted in Abstract, Patient Communities

Cancer peer support providers provide insight on the role of online communities

See on Scoop.itJourneying Beyond Breast Cancer

Online communities offer cancer patients a convenient way to obtain supportive care from peers however, little is known about how or why patients use them for this purpose. Cancer peer support providers are in a unique position to provide insight on the role of online communities in relation to other sources of supportive care.  This multi-method study aimed to identify the extent, nature and conditions of online community use among breast cancer survivors, known to be peer support providers.

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Posted in #HCSM, Abstract

Integrating social media and social marketing: a four-step process (Abstract)

See on Scoop.itHealth Care Social Media Monitor

Social media is a group of Internet-based applications that allows individuals to create, collaborate, and share content with one another. Practitioners can realize social media’s untapped potential by incorporating it as part of the larger social marketing strategy, beyond promotion. Social media, if used correctly, may help organizations increase their capacity for putting the consumer at the center of the social marketing process. The purpose of this article is to provide a template for strategic thinking to successfully include social media as part of the social marketing strategy by using a four-step process.

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Posted in Abstract, Patient Communities

Online Support Group for People Living with Depression (Abstract)

An increasing number of patients turn to the Internet to seek information and support. Online support groups, in particular, have shown a strong potential to foster supportive and resourceful environments for patients without restrictions of time, space, and stigma.

Research has found that users of those groups exchange various types of support, such as informational support, emotional support, and social companionship. However, due to the scarcity of research, many other aspects of depression online support groups remain inconclusive. For example, knowledge gaps exist in the areas of user characteristics, patterns of use, and relationship between the two. In particular, little is known about how user characteristics, such as gender, age, illness severity and treatment history, affect the way they use depression online support groups. For instance, severely depressed users may request emotional support more often than less depressed users.

Users with less depressive symptoms, on the other hand, may request informational support and social companionship more often than severely depressed users. Users of younger age may receive support more often than they to others, while older users may give support more often than they receive. But those hypotheses are not yet tested.

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Posted in Abstract

Development and Exploration of a Multifaceted Social Platform to Improve Patient Education, Communication, and Activity

See on Scoop.itHealth Care Social Media Monitor

This study was designed to explore how a multifaceted social platform might influence patient education, communication, and activity. Furthermore, objectives included understanding the importance of making approaches to patient engagement in these areas personalized, innovative, accessible, and robust. By utilizing both web and mobile interfaces, as well as employing various strategies to build a comprehensive network of tools for patients, researchers were able to compare and contrast various modern approaches to patient engagement.

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