Chronic diseases account for 71% of mortality across the globe. Health systems in both developed and developing countries are constrained in their ability to deal with the increasing incidence of chronic diseases due to the global shortage of healthcare professionals. Consequently, health social network sites (HSNs) are increasingly being used by patients and caregivers to search for health information and provide social support to one another. This paper presents the results of a systematic literature review (SLR) aimed at exploring the benefits and drawbacks of HSNs. Thirty-four research papers retrieved from five electronic databases were analyzed using specific inclusion/exclusion and quality assessment criteria. The results showed that all the 34 papers included in the SLR were published by authors from developed countries. Using thematic analysis, the benefits identified were classified broadly as (i) provision of health information and (ii) social support. The drawbacks include the dissemination of health misinformation, feeling of marginalization by healthcare professionals and concerns over privacy and confidentiality of health information. The research results highlight a need for studies that focus on the use of HSNs by researchers from developing countries and create a unique opportunity for African researchers to leverage the continuing growth in the number of active social media users to address the shortage of healthcare professionals in the continent.
Proceedings of 43rd Conference of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists.
Le Roux, Johan; Anema, Flo; Janse van Rensburg, Dina Christina; Kerkhoffs, Gino M.M.J.; Gouttebarge, Vincent(BMJ Publishing Group, 2023)
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