Background: Electronic media such as social media (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace), email, and text messaging could be useful in the management of asthma. However, patient use and preferences for electronic media in asthma management is currently unknown.
Methods: A survey was sent to asthma patients between 12-40 years of age. The survey collected demographic information, use of electronic media, interest in using electronic media to receive asthma information, and interest in using electronic media to communicate with a health care provider about asthma. Free text entries were encouraged.
Results: 145 completed surveys were returned. Text messaging, email, and Facebook were used at least weekly by a majority of respondents (82%, 77%, and 65%, respectively). Email was clearly the most preferred method to receive asthma information and to communicate with a physician. There was some interest in using Facebook or text messaging, whereas Myspace and Twitter had minimal interest. On logistic regression analysis, female and Black or Hispanic participants were more likely to have an interest in the use of electronic media for asthma care. Frequent users (>1X/week) of each electronic media type had greater enthusiasm for their incorporation into asthma care. Free text entries revealed that many participants felt social media sites were for connecting with friends rather than for health care, and privacy concerns were also raised.
Conclusion: Electronic media offers a novel way to improve asthma care. Email was the most preferred method, though text messaging and social media sites like Facebook may be appropriate for certain patients.