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Health Care Social Media, Pediatric, Reliability



  1. Franklin, Kathryn MSN, RN, CNL, CNOR
  2. Engstrand, Shannon MPH
  3. Thornton, Jason DNP, RN, CCRN, CPHQ
  4. Connor, Jean Anne PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN


Background/Introduction: Although social media is becoming a primary resource for information and support in all aspects of life, including health care, limited information is available describing social media use in parents whose child undergoes surgical care.


Objectives/Aims: The aims of this study were to describe how patients/families use social media to address health care needs and understand their perceptions of social media privacy and reliability.


Methods: A descriptive survey of 39 questions, both fixed choice and open ended, was distributed to a convenience sample of parents during their child's preoperative visit. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize fixed-choice responses. Content analysis was used to assess open-ended responses and comments.


Results: A total of 205 completed surveys were available for review. Overall, 195 (95.6%) reported using social media, with 70 (35%) using social media up to 5 times a day and another 61 (30.5%) using it 6 to 40 times a day. Respondents used social media for medical information (122/60.1%), to make health care decisions (53/26.5%), after a diagnosis (104/52%), after a medical visit (88/44%), and to update friends and family (129/65.5%). Most respondents were undecided (111/58.1%) when asked how reliable medical information was on social media sites, with 33 (17.3%) believing medical information to be "reliable to very reliable" on social media sites. Among the 61 comments received, 4 themes emerged: Spectrum of Social Media Use, Social Media and Health Care Interaction, Social Media as a Source of Support and Peer Experience, and Reliability of Social Media.


Discussion: Most respondents utilized social media for health care information while reporting feeling undecided on the reliability of the information. Understanding the multiple ways patients and families utilize social media provides health care members opportunities to discuss medical information, inform health care decision making, and support patient and family needs.