Women in Medicine Summit

Women in Medicine Summit

Source:

Freeman F, et al. Abstract 32. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit (virtual meeting); Sept. 24-25, 2021.

Disclosures: Odeniyi reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the abstract for all other researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.
September 27, 2021
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Social media engagement may improve patient experience, overcome medical misinformation

Source:

Freeman F, et al. Abstract 32. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit (virtual meeting); Sept. 24-25, 2021.

Disclosures: Odeniyi reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the abstract for all other researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Individuals with cancer use a broad range of social media platforms and other resources to seek and share health information, according to survey results presented at Women in Medicine Summit.

“Health care providers must use creative approaches to reach out to patients and find innovative and diverse ways to do so,” Folasade Odeniyi, second-year medical student at University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, said during a presentation. “Our findings highlight the nuances in our patient population, necessitating tailored communication strategies to meet that population’s needs.”

Individuals with cancer use a broad range of social media.
Data derived from Freeman F, et al. Abstract 32. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit (virtual meeting); Sept. 24-25, 2021.

The internet and other aspects of telehealth have become increasingly valuable resources during the COVID-19 pandemic for people with chronic conditions and those who have been unable to attend in-person medical appointments.

Similarly, social media has helped to alleviate patient stress and loneliness while increasing feelings of control and self-efficacy, according to study background.

“[Although] little is known about patient preferences for social media platforms, it’s use has been linked to positive patient outcomes,” Odeniyi said. “This study aimed to assess oncology patients’ access to technology, as well as the exact resources used to share and receive health information.”

Odeniyi and colleagues developed a 16-item survey adapted from the NCI Health Information National Trends Survey.

Researchers sent the survey via email to patients scheduled for visits at an outpatient care center. They also administered in-person surveys to capture patients who may not have had internet access.

Investigators contacted 1,713 patients and 306 (mean age, 57.5 years; 69.3% female; 52.3% Black or African American; 72.9% non-Hispanic) completed the full survey. A similar number of patients completed the survey via email (n = 145) or in person (n = 161).

Approximately one-third of respondents had a bachelor’s degree or higher. When asked to assess their comfort level with their income, a majority (64%) reported some financial difficulty.

“This highlights the hardships that our patients face, which may also directly influence their access to technology and social media platforms,” Odeniyi said.

Most patients surveyed had access to a primary care physician, although 20% reported either not having a PCP or not seeing one in the past year. Approximately one-quarter of respondents indicated they lived alone.

“This is especially salient in older populations, where it has been shown that social media interventions help to combat feelings of loneliness,” Odeniyi said.

When researchers asked participants which sources they would use if they had a strong need to get information about their illness, the most common answers included physician or health care provider (89.2%), internet search engine (71.2%), brochures or pamphlets (40.8%), a health care nonprofit (39.8%), books (33.6%), family (31%) and hospital websites (30.7%).

When forced to choose one information source, two-thirds (67.4%) indicated they would choose their physician and 21.8% indicated they would choose an internet search engine.

The majority of respondents reported having internet access via smart phone (62%), home computer or tablet (7%) or work computer (3%).

More than one-quarter of respondents (28%) reported not having internet access. This appeared significantly associated with age (X2 = 90.6; P = .02), annual income (X2 = 145.8; P = .002) and education level (X2 = 200.8; P = .03).

The majority (64%) of respondents reported using social media, with the top platforms being Facebook (61.7%), YouTube (48.6%), Instagram (29%), Snapchat (15.3%), Twitter (14.7%), LinkedIn (13.4%), Pinterest (13.4%), Tiktok (11.7%) and GroupMe (3.9%). Social media platform use appeared significantly associated with age (X2 = 235.7; P < .01).

A higher percentage of respondents used social media platforms to receive health care information than share health information. Only about 5% of respondents reported using social media to share health information with a medical professional.

These findings provide insights into where and how patients access health information and are able to share it with their health care team to promote care, researchers concluded. Further studies should explore use of social media platforms to support patients with cancer and their families, they added.

“There certainly is an opportunity to further engage patients on social media — especially our older patients,” Odeniyi said. “As social media engagement is linked to positive patient outcomes, employing social media health interventions can help us improve the illness experience of [patients with cancer]. Additionally, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, [providing further training to medical professionals] to engage on social media can help to mitigate the rampant medical misinformation present online.”