Social interaction and the need to communicate with others are universal human needs. People are connecting with one another in increasing numbers thanks to social networking sites and online communities that provide new ways of building social relations. Despite the increasing interest in social media, there seem to be a very limited understanding of how this technology, can be used in a healthcare context. This thesis investigates how to engage people with a chronic disease on social networking sites. Three research questions have guided this thesis and combinations of different research methods have been used. The first research question focuses on the current level of participation and the topics debated on a social networking site. A statistical content analysis demonstrates that very few users are participating in the discussions and a large group is observing content without contributing. Several different topics are being debated and more than half of them can be characterised as exchange of experiences. The second research question explores the reasons why some people with a chronic disease choose to participate on a social networking site while others choose not to. An explorative study demonstrates that people with diabetes have different needs and multiple reasons for participating. Newly diagnosed tend to use the network as a source of information while more experienced users get motivated by helping others. The third research question determines the benefits gained from being part of a physical network. This analysis demonstrates that especially applying other people’s experiences on a new situation is easier supported by face-to-face interaction. Based on the three research questions and the results from the analysis eight recommendations have been explicitly defined for the Danish Diabetes Foundation. The recommendations are divided into three dimensions: Technology, Health and People. The technical recommendations aim to improve the functionality of the social networking site to improve the attractiveness of the site and ways to ensure that potential users have the necessary technical skills to interact with the technology. The objective of health related recommendations is to involve health professionals and engage super users to facilitate the debate and exchange of knowledge, especially when newcomers enter the site. Involvement of health professionals such as doctors, psychologists and dieticians is to contribute with professional knowledge. The recommendations related to people focuses on facilitating the social learning between users through an interface displaying high user activity to motivate non-engaged users. We expect that these recommendations can help increase user participation and engagement on social networking sites to support the preventive treatment of people with a chronic disease.
|Uddannelser||Cand.merc.it Business Administration and Information Systems, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling|