Young adults experiences of seeking online information about diabetes and mental health in the age of social media

Fergie, G. , Hilton, S. and Hunt, K. (2016) Young adults experiences of seeking online information about diabetes and mental health in the age of social media. Health Expectations, 19(6), pp. 1324-1335. (doi: 10.1111/hex.12430) (PMID:26647109) (PMCID:PMC5139057)

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Background: The Internet is a primary source of health information for many. Since the widespread adoption of social media, user-generated health-related content has proliferated, particularly around long-term health issues such as diabetes and common mental health disorders (CMHDs). Objective: To explore perceptions and experiences of engaging with health information online in a sample of young adults familiar with social media environments and variously engaged in consuming user-generated content. Methods: Forty semi-structured interviews were conducted with young adults, aged 18–30, with experience of diabetes or CMHDs. Data were analysed following a thematic networks approach to explore key themes around online information-seeking and content consumption practices. Results: Although participants primarily discussed well-rehearsed approaches to health information-seeking online, particularly reliance on search engines, their accounts also reflected active engagement with health-related content on social media sites. Navigating between professionally produced websites and user-generated content, many of the young adults seemed to appreciate different forms of health knowledge emanating from varied sources. Participants described negotiating health content based on social media practices and features and assessing content heuristically. Some also discussed habitual consumption of content related to their condition as integrated into their everyday social media use. Conclusion: Technologies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer opportunities to consume and assess content which users deem relevant and useful. As users and organizations continue to colonize social media platforms, opportunities are increasing for health communication and intervention. However, how such innovations are adopted is dependent on their alignment with users' expectations and consumption practices.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hunt, Professor Kathryn and Fergie, Dr Gillian and Hilton, Professor Shona
Authors: Fergie, G., Hilton, S., and Hunt, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Health Expectations
ISSN (Online):1369-7625
Published Online:08 December 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in Health Expectations 19(6):1324-1335
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
656611Understanding and Use of Public Health ResearchShona HiltonMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/6IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
656581Gender and HealthKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/3IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727641SPHSU Core Renewal: Setting and Health Improvement Research ProgrammeKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/12IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727671SPHSU Core Renewal: Informing Healthy Public Policy Research ProgrammePeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU