The Information Prescription Part 8: Final Thoughts


Well, maybe not final thoughts. There are a lot of things that I want to follow up as a result of what I’ve learned about social media for people with chronic conditions. A few that might be interesting include:

  • While Weitzman et al.(2010) and Greene et al. (2010) developed research frameworks for analyzing online information and sites, there are other ways to analyze sites, including Martin-Niemi and Greatbanks’ (2010) ten enabling conditions. Establishing a rating system was beyond the scope of this course but is one that I may explore further.
  • Developing an easy to administer questionnaire for patients would help health educators in developing an information prescription. The market segmentation done for commercial interests may or may not hold true for people with a chronic disease.
  • It would be interesting to analyze user perceptions of various sites and compare them to clinical assessments of their utility and usefulness.
  • It would be good to look further at the connection between the increased use of peer-to-peer health connections online and better health outcomes.
  • It would also be useful to look further at best practices in social media use by health advocacy organizations.

When I set out the parameters for this blog series as part of independent coursework at the University of Alberta Masters in Communications and Technology, I wanted to review the use of health condition-related social networking sites and how people interact and use them. One of the challenges I found was defining a social networking site, which is why I devoted some time to developing definitions. There really didn’t seem to be very much in the literature on the different kinds of sites and their pros and cons. Another gap appeared to be in addressing the privacy implications of using Facebook for health-related community building.

I had also hoped to look at the proceedings of COACH’s ehealth conference held earlier in 2012. COACH is Canada’s health informatics association. However, the organization didn’t make full proceedings available.

In a third part of the course, I submitted an abstract for a poster presentation at the Accelerating Primary Care Conference November 19-22, 2012, which was accepted and I hope to blog from the Conference. Click here is you’d like to view the poster Accelerating Primary Care 2012 Poster: Judith Dyck.

And a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Ann Curry and Dr. Fay Fletcher for their patience and acting as supervisors for this project. As people with a chronic disease and students always discover, one doesn’t journey alone.


Greene, J., Choudrhy, N., Kilabuk, E., & Shrank, W. (2010). Online social networking by patients with diabetes: A qualitative evaluation of communication with facebook. Journal of General Internal Medicine 26(3), 287-292.

Martin-Niemi, F. & Greatbanks, R. (2010). The ba of blogs: enabling conditions for knowledge conversion in blog communities. Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, 40(1), 7-23.

Weitzman, E., Cole, E., Kaci, L., & Mandl, K. (2010). Social but safe? Quality and safety of diabetes-related online social networks. Journal of American Medical Informatics Association 2011; 18, 292-297.


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