Currently submitted to: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Date Submitted: Sep 4, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Sep 4, 2019 - Oct 30, 2019
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Patterns of use and perceived value of social media for population health among population health stakeholders: a cross-sectional web-based survey
Social media has become a popular tool in many healthcare settings with healthcare professionals commonly using social media to connect and share information. However, existing literature has predominantly focused on professionals in a single clinical discipline. The nature of population health activity necessitates a multi-disciplinary approach and hence involves a diverse range of stakeholders. To date, little is known about the acceptability of the use of social media for population health among various population health stakeholders.
The aim of this study was to investigate the patterns of use and perceived values of social media among health and social care providers and other stakeholders involved in population health practice, policy or research.
We conducted a web-based cross-sectional survey in April 2019 at the national networking event for practitioners of population health in Singapore. We designed a questionnaire to assess 1) the social media use in terms of platform and frequency and 2) perceptions on the relevance and impact of social media on population health including benefits and limitations of social media use, target population health areas, target age groups and target audiences most likely to benefit from the use of social media. We used descriptive and logistic regression analyses to assess the relationships between variables.
Of the 308 respondents, the vast majority (97.7%) reported that they use social media. Messaging (96.8%) was the most frequently used mode of social media. In terms of age groups and recipients, participants perceived that 30-39 years (92.2%) and caregivers (87.3%) would benefit most from the use of social media. About three quarters agreed that social media sites or apps (77.0%) were the most useful modes of communication. The main challenges in scaling social media for population health included time investment by health care providers (56.2%) and patient adoption (53.0%). The top three areas in population health that would benefit most from the use of social media included the promotion of healthy behaviours (60.7%), community engagement (47.3%) and preventive care (40.6%). Older respondents (>= 40 years) were less likely to think that social media would be useful for the promotion of healthy behaviours (OR=0.44; 95% CI: 0.28-0.71). Non-social and healthcare providers were more likely to consider that social media would be useful for community engagement (OR= 1.66; 95% CI: 0.13-0.81). For preventive care, older respondents (OR= 0.51; 95% CI: 0.32-0.82) and non-health and social care providers were less likely to think that social media would be useful (OR= 0.61; 95% CI: 0.38-0.97).
This study provides valuable insight into the views of population health stakeholders on the use of social media for population health. Findings will be used to inform the design of population health programmes and interventions that employ social media.
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