Characteristics of patients seeking health information online via social health networks versus general Internet sites: A comparative study

Racheli Magnezi, Dafna Grosberg, Ilya Novikov, Arnona Ziv, Mordechai Shani, Laurence S. Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Camoni.co.il, a Hebrew-language social health network offers advice, consultation, and connection to others with chronic illness. This study compared characteristics and objectives of Camoni.co.il users and individuals seeking medical information through general Internet sites. Methods: Similar questionnaires were sent to 1009 Internet and 900 Camoni users. Cluster analysis defined four modes of online social health network use: "acquiring information and support", "communicating", "networking" and "browsing". Results: Six hundred and five Internet and 125 Camoni users responded. Diabetes, hypertension, obesity and lung diseases were found more often among general Internet users than Camoni users. Among Camoni users, "acquiring information and support" was the main motivation for individuals over age 55 years, women, those with lower income, chronic pain, obesity and depression. "Communicating" was the main incentive of men, those 20-34 years old, those with less education, or an eating disorder. "Networking" was the most significant motivation for those with multiple sclerosis or depression. Browsing was most frequent among individuals with multiple sclerosis. Conclusions: Identifying needs of social health network surfers will allow planning unique contents and enhancing social health sites. Physicians might advise patients to use them to obtain support and information regarding their conditions, possibly leading to improved compliance and self-management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages14
JournalInformatics for Health and Social Care
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Informa UK Ltd. All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.

Keywords

  • Chronic illness
  • Internet users
  • Social health network
  • Social network

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