Motivations for Participation in an Online Social Media Community for Diabetes

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Abstract

Background:

Our objectives were to describe individuals’ motivations for participation in an online social media community and to assess their level of trust in medical information provided by medical professionals and community members.

Methods:

A purposive survey was delivered to participants recruited through posts on the CGM in the Cloud group, Twitter, and blogs. Individuals were asked a series of demographic and social media use questions.

Results:

A total of 1268 members of the CGM in the Cloud community responded to the survey. The majority were non-Hispanic White (92.1%) and caregivers of an individual with diabetes (80.9%). Mean age was 41 years old, and 74.8% were female. Primary goals of the Facebook group were to learn more about Nightscout technology and to receive technological assistance. Individuals provided assistance to the community through spreading awareness, technical assistance, support, and donation. Respondents put a high level of trust in their peers versus health professionals in many health situations with nearly 40% of individuals reported to be helped by following advice found in the Facebook group, and 99% reported no harm.

Conclusions:

Our findings suggest that patients with diabetes and their caregivers use social media for many health-related purposes including medical recommendations and technical support for medical devices and systems as well as emotional support.

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