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5 Answers to the Question: How Can Social Media Improve Health Outcomes?

Social Media and Health

A startling amount of American adults suffer from at least one chronic condition – almost 1 in 2 adults.  Given our proclivities for inactivity, tobacco use, poor nutrition, and excessive alcohol consumption, this figure is not surprising.  What is maybe more surprising is that social media – something thought to keep people sedentary – can help improve health outcomes for many adults.  Below, we’ll discuss 5 different ways social media can help improve health outcomes.

  1. The conversation doesn’t have to end once the doctor walks out of the exam room.  Patients see an immediate improvement in their quality of care when they can stay in contact with their physician after the appointment is over.  Conversations continue when doctors are able to post general knowledge about medications, side effects, treatment options, and disease prognoses.
  2. Patients feel empowered to manage their condition.  Through social media, patients can discuss their conditions and give one another advice on questions to ask their doctors, what treatments options are most helpful, and discuss health news relevant to their conditions.  This can all help a patient with a chronic condition feel as though he or she is not alone in their health journey.
  3. Patients with similar conditions can discuss symptoms and compare treatment plans.  Participating in online discussions is especially important for patients who are unable to partake in face-to-face discussions with other patients because there either isn’t a physical support group, or the patient has mobility issues. 
  4. Having a community of similar patients helps us cope.  Having constant access to an online support community helps patients deal with chronic conditions and any complications that may accompany them.  Patients can share their concerns, inspire one another, and offer support.  The simple act of knowing we aren’t alone in a situation is itself a huge help.
  5. Facilitates exchange of health knowledge and medical experience.  Social media allows for constant sharing of information and experience, as well as providing a forum for doctors to answer questions, and post opinions on breaking health news.

Photo Credit: Social Media and Health/shutterstock

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