Random Article

randomly select again >>

“It’s not that I don’t have problems, I’m just not putting them on Facebook”: Challenges and Opportunities in Using Online Social Networks for Health

Abstract
To understand why and how people share health information online, we interviewed fourteen people with significant health concerns who participate in both online health communities and Facebook. Qualitative analysis of these interviews highlighted the ways that people think about with whom and how to share different types of information as they pursue social goals related to their personal health, including emotional support, motivation, accountability, and advice. Our study suggests that success in these goals depends on how well they develop their social networks and how effectively they communicate within those networks. Effective communication is made more challenging by the need to strike a balance between sharing information related to specific needs and the desire to manage self-presentation. Based on these observations, we outline a set of design opportunities for future systems to support health-oriented social interactions online, including tools to help users shape their social networks and communicate effectively within those.

Comments
This paper does not really deal with public health per se, but it does address personal health in public venues. In particular, it discusses how people choose where to share different types of information, including online health communities, generic online communities, social networking sites, and direct contact with offline friends and loved ones. The authors interviewed fourteen people with significant health concerns (weight, diabetes) who participate in both online health communities and Facebook. The authors observed two main forces at work: building and maintaining multiple networks and managing the tension between impression management and sharing information related to a health concern. The main concerns shared by all interviewees were: emotional support, accountability, and motivation. Some of the interviewees would make use of selective posting mechanisms, or edit posting content (deleting) details to suit the particular online forum. Virtual gifts to enhance motivation (for weight loss) were also used. The authors suggest, finally, that social software should provide users with greater control over their communication partners through mechanisms such as egocentric custom groups for particular communication patterns, or custom lenses, which would allow users to filter messages from certain people to support certain goals.

Citation
Newman, M., Lauterbach, D., Munson, S., Resnick, P., Morris, M., “”It’s not that I don’t have problems, I’m just not putting them on Facebook” Challenges and Opportunities in Using Online Social Networks for Health,” CSCW, 2011, p. 341 – 350

Expertise Level
Introductory

Professional Field
Public Health, Social Media

Link to Document