Whilst the future for social media in chronic disease management appears to be optimistic, there is limited concrete evidence indicating whether and how social media use significantly improves patient outcomes. This review examines the health outcomes and related effects of using social media, while also exploring the unique affordances underpinning these effects. Few studies have investigated social media's potential in chronic disease, but those we found indicate impact on health status and other effects are positive, with none indicating adverse events. Benefits have been reported for psychosocial management via the ability to foster support and share information; however, there is less evidence of benefits for physical condition management. We found that studies covered a very limited range of social media platforms and that there is an ongoing propensity towards reporting investigations of earlier social platforms, such as online support groups (OSG), discussion forums and message boards. Finally, it is hypothesized that for social media to form a more meaningful part of effective chronic disease management, interventions need to be tailored to the individualized needs of sufferers. The particular affordances of social media that appear salient in this regard from analysis of the literature include: identity, flexibility, structure, narration and adaptation. This review suggests further research of high methodological quality is required to investigate the affordances of social media and how these can best serve chronic disease sufferers. Evidence-based practice (EBP) using social media may then be considered. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
Merolli, M., Gray, K., & Martin-Sanchez, F. (2013, December). Health outcomes and related effects of using social media in chronic disease management: A literature review and analysis of affordances. Journal of Biomedical Informatics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbi.2013.04.010