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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 51-58

Social Media Use for Health Purposes by Chronic Disease Patients in the United States

1 School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California, United States
2 School of Behavioral Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California, United States

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Noara Alhusseini
School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California
United States
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DOI: 10.4103/sjmms.sjmms_262_20

PMID: 33519344

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Background: Social media can be a cost-effective instant tool for exchanging health information among those with chronic diseases. However, few studies have analyzed the nexus between chronic disease and patients' use of the internet for health-related purposes. Objective: The objective of this study is to determine if chronic disease patients in the United States use social media platforms to share health information and/or join groups of similar condition. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study conducted a secondary analysis of the Health Information Trends Survey dataset 5 (cycle 1 of 2017 and cycle 2 of 2018) (N = 6650), which is nationally representative of American adults. A series of chi-square tests was carried to examine the association between using social media by chronic disease patients and (a) sharing health information and (b) participating in relevant health groups. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine significant findings. Results: In terms of sharing health information on social media sites, those who were aged 18–49 years (P < 0.0001) and underweight (P = 0.04) were more likely to share health information on social media, while males were less likely to do so (P < 0.0001). In terms of joining relevant health groups on social media, predictors were being aged 35–49 years (P = 0.008), having a Bachelor's or postbaccalaureate degree (P < 0.02) and having depression or anxiety disorder (P = 0.004); males were less likely to join such groups (P = 0.0004). Conclusion: Individuals with chronic conditions, except depression or anxiety disorder, were not likely to participate in social media support groups. Future studies should explore how social media can be used to effectively engage those with chronic diseases, which may assist in disease management.

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