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User-driven conversations about dialysis through Facebook: A qualitative thematic analysis.

Research paper by Salim S Ahmed, Rebecca J RJ Haines-Saah, Arfan R AR Afzal, Helen H Tam-Tham, Mohammad M Al Mamun, Brenda R BR Hemmelgarn, Tanvir C TC Turin

Indexed on: 24 Mar '16Published on: 24 Mar '16Published in: Nephrology



Abstract

As one of the most popular social networking sites in the world, Facebook has strong potential to enable peer support and the user-driven sharing of health information. We carried out a qualitative thematic analysis of the wall posts of a public Facebook group focused on dialysis to identify some of the major themes discussed.We searched Facebook using the word "dialysis". A Facebook group (Dialysis Discussion Uncensored) with the highest number of members was selected among publicly available forums related to dialysis and operated in English (http://www.facebook.com/groups/DialysisUncensored). Two researchers independently extracted information on features of the group including purpose, group members, and the user-generated posts on the group wall. Posts were further analyzed to develop major themes.Characteristics of a Facebook group based on its participants and activities are presented. Three themes are described with representative quotations. In a period of two weeks, we found 1257 wall posts with total of 31,636 likes and 15,972 comments. All messages were in English and the majority of the participants were dialysis patients. However, we observed the participation of family members and care providers as well. Posts were categorized into three major themes: sharing information, seeking and providing emotional and social support, and sharing experience.Findings of this study provide an example of how a social networking platform can enable patients and their families to share information and to encourage peer-based support for managing dialysis-related experiences.