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Social media study shows healthcare professional online trends

By Editor
19th April 2017
Technology, Type 1 diabetes

The misconception that type 1 diabetes can be avoided by leading a healthy lifestyle is one of the most common misunderstandings healthcare professionals must deal with, according to a new study.

Developed in collaboration with healthcare professionals in the UK and Spain, a study of 50,000 social media posts by more than 7,000 UK healthcare professionals was conducted.

It was able to identify which healthcare professionals are influencing online discussion around diabetes, what their key digital behaviours are and what their thoughts are on established treatments and recent innovations.

The study also provides insight into UK healthcare professionals’ feelings about the NHS in type 1 diabetes care and the health and well-being of people with the condition firmly remains the number one priority among doctors and nurses.

Another misconception that healthcare professionals discuss online a lot is their need to highlight the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The findings also showed that although many positive patient stories were shared and re-tweeted, there was also concern about NHS care of patients with type 1 diabetes, and many healthcare professionals were concerned by the risk of patients developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in NHS hospitals.

The data was collected using technology that tracks online public conversations. Junell Harrington, who led the Creation research, said: “There is a desire from HCPs to see patients, especially young patients, have opportunities to improve lifestyle or connect with one another by creating patient communities.”

Among the patient engagement and support tools that healthcare professionals initiated or collaborated in were Diabetes Type 1: Origins, which is a comic book published by Revolve Comics in October designed to educate young people about type 1 Diabetes.

JDRF’s resources for young people on diabetes and Ninjabetic, which is a blog authored by Laura Cleverly is published on The Diabetes Times were also popular resources.

Ms Harrington said: “We saw in the data that healthcare professionals were quick to share praise for the NHS posted by patients, but they were also proactive about seeking better patient care where they saw weaknesses in systems.”

Research analyst Jamie Doggett said:  “The top healthcare professionals network well together, curate knowledge, and share content.”

Dr Partha Kar, who is associate national clinical director for diabetes for NHS England and also an associate editor for The Diabetes Times, said: “Creation’s report shows what can be achieved when healthcare professionals use social media: they share ideas and learn from each other, and they get to understand what’s important to patients, too.”

The study also revealed the international nature of online conversation among healthcare professionals, illustrating that the UK’s top 25 healthcare professionals talking about type 1 diabetes were followed by more than 8,500 other healthcare professionals, both in the UK and all around the world.

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