Social Media and Healthcare Technology Minitrack

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Social media is changing the way healthcare organizations, consumers, and practitioners interact. Initially, many healthcare organizations avoided the use of social media, and even restricted their employees from using it. However, increasingly healthcare providers and organizations are realizing that there are opportunities to serve the public, patients and physicians, while also building awareness and enhancing their brand. Consumers are increasingly using social media to research and make health decisions, including selecting a doctor, and researching courses of treatment. Physicians have begun using social media to network professionally with colleagues and to share medical knowledge within the medical community. Clinicians and researchers have also begun using social media to design and implement behavioral interventions for a variety of health conditions.

The objective of this minitrack is provide a venue for researchers to discuss a range of uses of social media to address healthcare including methodological, conceptual, and design issues. Papers will include studies that: (1) evaluate the design, development, and implementation of social media applications; (2) assess the impact of these interventions, including impacts on patients, healthcare providers, organizations, and society in general; and (3) develop theories and models to better understand the mechanisms by which social media produces impacts on healthcare and health behavior.

Minitrack Co-Chairs:

Beth Bock (Primary Contact)
Brown Medical School

Rochelle Rosen
Brown University School of Public Health


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    The Feasibility of Incentivizing Participation in an Online Social Network Weight Loss Program
    ( 2017-01-04) Pagoto, Sherry ; Waring, Molly ; Olendzki, Effie ; Oleski, Jessica ; May, Christine ; Evans, Martinus
    Engagement in online social network-delivered weight loss interventions is a predictor of weight loss. Incentivizing engagement in a subset of participants may increase group engagement and subsequent weight loss. In a pilot feasibility trial, 56 adults with obesity were randomized to two Facebook-delivered weight loss interventions, one had 10% users incentivized to engage daily and the other did not. We compared conditions on engagement and weight loss, and then compared incentivized users and natural high engagers on weight loss. Participants were 46.3 (SD: 10.3) years and 89% female. The incentivized user condition had greater total engagement (p=0.0361), but weight loss did not differ (p=0.2096). Three natural superusers emerged in each condition. Natural superusers lost more weight than incentivized users (p=0.0358). Natural superusers’ posts elicited more comments than incentivized superusers (p=0.0107). Incentivized superusers may engage differently than natural superusers. Future studies should explore ways to promote engagement in online interventions.
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    Social Media in Healthcare
    ( 2017-01-04) Gamache-OLeary, Valerie ; Grant, Gerald
    Despite its significant potential there has been limited analysis of the use of interactive social media in a healthcare setting. This paper considers important feedback and advice from cancer patients at a large Canadian academic health science centre, along with a review of Social Media literature, Information Seeking Theory, Virtual Communities literature, Social Theory, Adaptive Structuration Theory (AST), and technology evolution to propose a high-level, theoretical interactive-dynamic social media platform for cancer patients. Further, it puts forward a research question and four propositions to guide future empirical research to assess whether this type of social media platform positively influences patient and provider satisfaction, health outcomes and value for money in the treatment of cancer patients.
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    Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): Social Media Communication on Selected #MND and #ALS Tagged Tweets
    ( 2017-01-04) Hemsley, Bronwyn ; Palmer, Stuart ; Goonan, Wendy ; Dann, Stephen
    In March-April 2016, 3288 original tweets tagged with #MND #ALS and other minor related tags (e.g., #cureALS #cureMND) were analysed using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods on tweet data and content. In this paper we outline the technical methods used in gathering and selecting relevant tweets for analysis, and present the results including inductive coding of content themes. The findings will inform (a) future social media research in relation to MND/ALS, (b) improved supports for people with MND/ALS and their families to use Twitter for information exchange, advocacy, and as a non-verbal form of communication, and (c) knowledge for MND/ALS service providers and philanthropic organisations on ways to engage with adults with MND/ALS in Twitter.
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    Exploring Dynamics of Facebook Health Support Groups: a Leadership Perspective
    ( 2017-01-04) Farzan, Rosta ; Jonassaint, Charles
    Online health support groups are among the most popular Internet groups, being employed daily to share and seek health-related information, support, and advice. The leaders of these groups often employ various strategies to encourage and regulate participation. In this work, using a mixed methods data collection and research methodology, we follow a health support group leadership framework to examine how the organic peer-leadership strategies grows in two distinct Facebook groups, both dedicated to patients with Sickle Cell Disease. Our results highlight how these organic leadership strategies follow the standard leadership frameworks in more traditional context. Our results also shows that different leadership strategies lead to different group dynamics in terms of level of interaction and content of the discussions.
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    Crowd-Sourced Focus Groups on Twitter: 140 Characters of Research Insight
    ( 2017-01-04) Chai, Peter R. ; Rosen, Rochelle K. ; Lewis, Dana M. ; Ranney, Megan L. ; Boyer, Edward W.
    Researchers have traditionally relied on in-person focus groups to test and obtain feedback regarding behavioral and technology-based interventions for specific disease processes. An increasing generation of engaged and connected patients turn to Twitter, a popular microblogging service, to discuss health related topics. Regularly scheduled Twitter-based chats (tweetchats) can potentially function as an additional source of input and information from a diverse, global group of engaged participants. We report the first use of a “tweetchat focus group” to explore data collection issues using this methodology. The speed at which tweetchat conversations occur, coupled with the ability to pursue multiple streams of conversation both in real time and in a delayed fashion, make tweetchat data collection particularly challenging. We discuss important considerations and preparation that should be undertaken by the researchers prior to initiating a tweetchat focus group, consider facilitation challenges and issues of confidentiality. \
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    Assessing Drinking Norms from Attending Drinking Events and Social Network Site Use
    ( 2017-01-04) Rui, Jian ; Stefanone, Michael
    This study compares how exposure to drinking information on social network sites (SNSs) and attending drinking events are related to college students’ perceived drinking norms. A two-wave online survey using a national sample (N = 151) was conducted. While exposure to drinking information on SNSs was positively related to perceived injunctive drinking norms, attending drinking events was positively associated with perceived descriptive drinking norms. In addition, attention to social comparison information was positively related to both drinking norms and moderated the relationship between attending drinking events and both norms. This study extends the research on social norms and new technology, and suggests implications about how to incorporate new media into drinking campaigns.
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    Introduction to Social Media and Healthcare Technology Minitrack
    ( 2017-01-04) Bock, Beth ; Rosen, Rochelle