Who gives a tweet: assessing patients' interest in the use of social media for health care

Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2012 Apr;9(2):100-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-6787.2012.00243.x. Epub 2012 Mar 20.


Background: Social media (SoMe) use is quickly accelerating in healthcare delivery. Evidence-based SoMe use may improve patient engagement and communication, leading to better outcomes.

Aim: To assess patient use of and preferences regarding SoMe in their health care.

Methods: A descriptive survey was conducted using an 11-item questionnaire that was completed by 111 patients at an outpatient family practice clinic in Southern Utah, USA. Age, gender, health status, current or future SoMe use, provider use of SoMe, perceived barriers, and health mobile application use was assessed.

Results: Eighty three percent of respondents used some form of SoMe. Fifty six percent of the participants wanted providers to use SoMe. Gender or health status did not affect SoMe attitudes or use, however, use varied with age. Patients wanted providers to use SoMe for appointment setting and reminders, reporting diagnostic test results, prescription notifications, providing health information, and as a forum for asking general questions. Among those who did not use SoMe, 41.6% would consider using it if their healthcare provider used it. E-mail and mobile telephones were the preferred communication mode. Privacy and confidentiality concerns were the most frequently cited barriers (48%) when considering the use of SoMe.

Discussion and implications: This study indicates growing patient acceptance of SoMe in health care. Understanding user profiles, preferences, and barriers can help providers in prioritizing where to direct efforts when using evidence-based SoMe in their practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Aged
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Preference*
  • Practice Management*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Social Media* / statistics & numerical data
  • Utah