Cardiac patients’ experiences and perceptions of social media: mixed-methods study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2017, 19 (9)
Issue Date:
2017-09-01
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© Stephanie R Partridge, Anne C Grunseit, Patrick Gallagher, Becky Freeman, Blythe J O'Hara, Lis Neubeck, Sarah Due, Glenn Paull, Ding Ding, Adrian Bauman, Philayrath Phongsavan, Kellie Roach, Leonie Sadler, Helen Glinatsis, Robyn Gallagher. Background: Traditional in-person cardiac rehabilitation has substantial benefits for cardiac patients, which are offset by poor attendance. The rapid increase in social media use in older adults provides an opportunity to reach patients who are eligible for cardiac rehabilitation but unable to attend traditional face-to-face groups. However, there is a paucity of research on cardiac patients’ experiences and perspectives on using social media to support their health. Objective: The aim of this study was to describe cardiac rehabilitation patients’ experiences in using social media in general and their perspective on using social media, particularly Facebook, to support their cardiac health and secondary prevention efforts. Methods: A mixed-methods study was undertaken among cardiac rehabilitation patients in both urban and rural areas. First, this study included a survey (n=284) on social media use and capability. Second, six focus group interviews were conducted with current Facebook users (n=18) to elucidate Facebook experience and perspectives. Results: Social media use was low (28.0%, 79/282) but more common in participants who were under 70 years of age, employed, and had completed high school. Social media users accessed Web-based information on general health issues (65%, 51/79), medications (56%, 44/79), and heart health (43%, 34/79). Participants were motivated to invest time in using Facebook for “keeping in touch” with family and friends and to be informed by expert cardiac health professionals and fellow cardiac participants if given the opportunity. It appeared that participants who had a higher level of Facebook capability (understanding of features and the consequences of their use and efficiency in use) spent more time on Facebook and reported higher levels of “liking,” commenting, or sharing posts. Furthermore, higher Facebook capability appeared to increase a participants’ willingness to participate in a cardiac Facebook support group. More capable users were more receptive to the use of Facebook for cardiac rehabilitation and more likely to express interest in providing peer support. Recommended features for a cardiac rehabilitation Facebook group included a closed group, expert cardiac professional involvement, provision of cardiac health information, and ensuring trustworthiness of the group. Conclusions: Cardiac health professionals have an opportunity to capitalize on cardiac patients’ motivations and social media, mostly Facebook, as well as the capability for supporting cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention. Participants’ favored purposeful time spent on Facebook and their cardiac health provides such a purpose for a Facebook intervention. The study results will inform the development of a Facebook intervention for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
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