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Ressler, P.K. and Gualtieri, L.: Communicating the Experience of Illness through Patient Blogs

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Medicine 2.0 2011 (Stanford) slides. Research from Tufts University School of Medicine: Communicating the Experience of Chronic Illness through Blogs

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Ressler, P.K. and Gualtieri, L.: Communicating the Experience of Illness through Patient Blogs

  1. 1. Communicating the Experience of Illness through Patient Blogs<br />Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM and Pamela Katz Ressler, MS, RN, HN-BC<br />Tufts University School of Medicine<br />136 Harrison Avenue<br />Boston, MA 02111 USA<br /> @lisagualtieri and @pamressler<br />
  2. 2. What is the Problem?<br />Current model of health care delivery does not encourage the patient to communicate the experience of living with chronic illness<br />Lack of research on the phenomenon of illness blogs for patients with various chronic illness diagnoses<br />
  3. 3. People tell their experience of illness<br />CarePages<br />CaringBridge<br />Gualtieri & Ressler 2010<br />Technology-enabled<br />
  4. 4. How Many Patient Bloggers?<br />13% of e-patients write a blog about their diagnosis and treatment (Pew 2010)<br />e-patients refers to the 61% of US adults who use the Internet for health information<br />Of the 69% of US adults reported having Internet access, 7% reported blogging (HINTS 2007) <br />
  5. 5. and Growing<br />Fertile field with<br /><ul><li>More than 133 million individuals living with chronic illness in the US</li></ul> National Center for Health Statistics, 2006<br /><ul><li>The popularity of blogs and other social media
  6. 6. Increased visibility on hospital and media websites</li></li></ul><li>Initial Interest<br />Gary Klatsky, Professor of Psychology at SUNY Oswego, who blogged about his cancer<br />This was his final post<br />
  7. 7. Many patient bloggers<br />Most, like Gary’s, are written by individuals about their diagnosis and treatment<br /><ul><li>Not widely read
  8. 8. Not heavily commented
  9. 9. Hard to find: http://garysurgery.blogspot.com/</li></ul>A few are widely read and promoted<br />
  10. 10. Leroy Sievers, NPR<br />
  11. 11. Dana Jennings, New York Times<br />
  12. 12.
  13. 13.
  14. 14. Examples are everyplace…<br />
  15. 15. Preliminary analysis of patient blogs indicated possible benefit to:<br /><ul><li>Individual patients
  16. 16. Family and friends of patients
  17. 17. Other people in similar situations
  18. 18. Healthcare providers
  19. 19. Medical community</li></li></ul><li>Hypothesis<br />Communicating the experience of illness through blogging provides positive psychosocial benefits to some patients with chronic illness.<br />
  20. 20. Theoretical Framework<br />Research is grounded in nursing theory<br />Dr. Margaret Newman’s theory Health as Expanding Consciousness recognizes that health is an awareness or consciousness of the evolving interaction between the individual and his or her environment and is possible regardless of presence or absence of disease. <br />Newman, 2005<br />
  21. 21. Project Methods<br />Literature search revealed a paucity of information on illness blogs<br />Initiated formative qualitative research in the design of an online survey<br />Developed an online consent to fully inform participants and meet Tufts Medical Center IRB regulations<br />
  22. 22. Project Methods<br />IRB submitted and approved by Tufts Medical Center<br />A convenience sample of 50 current illness bloggers solicited through through social media forums and online patient communities (n=41)<br />Data analyzed for psychosocial themes as well as demographic data, recognizing that the cohort is a self-selected group of English speaking illness bloggers.<br />
  23. 23.
  24. 24. Survey Tool<br />34 question online survey tool designed and tested through Survey Monkey™, a widely used survey aggregator/collector allowing for safe, SSL encrypted data transmission<br /><ul><li>Survey questions consisted of a mix of closed-ended multiple choice and matrix design questions and open-ended essay/comment questions inquiring on motivational and psychosocial factors relating to blogging.
  25. 25. Demographic data questions (age range, gender, educational level, race/ethnicity) are also asked.
  26. 26. Any question in the survey could be skipped by the respondent with the exception of Question 1 which served as the informed consent and was required to be answered in the affirmative .</li></li></ul><li>Sample Survey Questions<br /><ul><li>What is the diagnosis or illness that prompted you to begin a blog?
  27. 27. Has writing a blog made a difference in how you have dealt with your illness? How?
  28. 28. What motivated you to start a blog?
  29. 29. Has writing or reading patient blogs changed your sense of connection with others?
  30. 30. Have you shared your blog with your health care provider? </li></li></ul><li>Results<br />High level of co-morbidities among the sample group: <br /><ul><li>Isolating illness , such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, depression
  31. 31. Rare diseases or uncategorized illness
  32. 32. Cancer, particularly breast and ovarian
  33. 33. Diabetes
  34. 34. Common features included chronicity of illness and potential for pain and suffering</li></ul>Demographic data revealed: <br /><ul><li>Relatively homogenous cohort
  35. 35. Predominantly female
  36. 36. Caucasian
  37. 37. Highly educated
  38. 38. 79% between ages of 25-55 </li></li></ul><li>Public Nature of Blogs<br />Majority of blogs were searchable and public<br />Most bloggers used their own names when blogging versus a pen name or blogging anonymously<br />>80% shared their blogs with friends and family members<br />>95% read other people’s health/ illness blogs<br />>80% have contributed comments on other people’s blogs<br />Majority of respondents engaged in other forms social media, in addition to blogging (most common were Facebook, Twitter)<br />
  39. 39.
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  41. 41.
  42. 42.
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  44. 44. Blogs Shared with Providers?<br />Less than 1 in 4 respondents shared their blogs with their healthcare providers.<br />Reasons:<br />HCP wouldn’t be interested<br />HCP doesn’t have time<br />Want to vent <br />Concerned about judgments or repercussions to care<br />Blog is “my” reality<br />
  45. 45. Results<br />Some psychosocial themes identified in survey:<br /><ul><li> Increased connection with others
  46. 46. Decreased sense of isolation
  47. 47. Increased ability to tell one’s illness story to others
  48. 48. Increased accountability (to self and others)
  49. 49. Increased sense of efficacy
  50. 50. Increased sense of purpose, meaning and understanding of illness</li></li></ul><li>Limitations<br />Survey size was small (n=41), larger sample is now being analyzed (n=372) <br />Self-selected group of illness bloggers responded. To generalize the results, a larger sample size, as well as a broader demographic cohort would need to be obtained. <br />The survey respondents were predominantly women. This may have been because some of the more active online communities are currently focused on gender specific cancers, as well illnesses with a high prevalence in women.<br />Only English speaking respondents because the survey tool was not translated into other languages.<br />
  51. 51. Future Directions<br />Further investigation of positive emotional and physical health outcomes<br />Recommendation to newly diagnosed patient?<br /><ul><li>Are there patients who, based on their disease or stage of disease, would benefit from blogging?
  52. 52. Would healthcare providers recommend starting a blog and is there an optimal time?
  53. 53. Are there differences based on type of illness, such as visible/hidden?
  54. 54. What does someone need to get started?</li></ul>Development of educational tool to assist patients/providers in initiating an illness blog<br />
  55. 55. And this response says it all…<br /> “First I was helped, now I am helping…a reminder that I *am* part of the world.”<br />
  56. 56. Thank You to Medicine 2.0Questions?<br />@lisagualtieri and @pamressler<br />
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Medicine 2.0 2011 (Stanford) slides. Research from Tufts University School of Medicine: Communicating the Experience of Chronic Illness through Blogs

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