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Table 1 Overview of included studies in the literature review

From: Social media use in healthcare: A systematic review of effects on patients and on their relationship with healthcare professionals

Year Author(s)
- Article no.
Journal Main objective of study Type of research Data collection Participants (sample)
2005 [13] Journal of Sociology To explore the experiences of, and attitudes towards, online support groups Qualitative Interviews 33 Australian men with prostate cancer and 18 specialists
2008 [22] Journal of Medical Internet Research To explore whether lurkers in online patient support groups profit to the same extent as posters do Quantitative Online survey 528 members of Dutch online support groups for patients with breast cancer, fibromyalgia, and arthritis
2008 [28] Journal of Medical Internet Research To identify and analyse how users of the platform PatientsLikeMe reference personal health information within patient-to-patient dialogues Qualitative Analysis of comments 123 comments posted within the ALS community
2010 [15] New Review of Hypermedia & Multimedia To understand why and how people use health-related sites Quantitative Online survey 33 Patients with a medical condition (patients)
2010 [27] Pedriatic Transplantation To investigate the feasibility and safety of an online virtual community as a potential psychosocial intervention for post-transplant adolescents Qualitative and Quantitative Data analysis of the Zora system logs and interviews 22 patients with solid organ transplants aged between 11-15 years
2010 [35] Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology To focus on investigating the perceived disadvantages of online infertility support communities from the perspective of those who access and participate in them Qualitative and Quantitative Online survey 295 participants coping with fertility problems
2010 [36]. Journal of Medical Internet Research To describe the potential benefits of PatientsLikeMe in terms of treatment decisions, symptom management, clinical management, and outcomes Quantitative Online survey 1323 members from six PatientsLikeMe communities (ALS, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, HIV, fibromyalgia, and mood disorders)
2011 [23] Patient Education and Counseling To investigate the potential of online support groups to foster empowerment and how membership might affect the patient/health professional relationship Quantitative Online survey 246 individuals from 33 chronic conditions online support groups
2011 [26] Journal of Medical Internet Research To explore the differences in peer support received by lurkers and posters in online breast cancer communities Quantitative Online survey 253 members of four Japanese online breast cancer communities
2012 [16] Journal of Medical Internet research To explore the motivations and challenges faced by patients who share videos about their health and experiences on YouTube Qualitative Analysis of videos Videos uploaded by 4 patients with a chronic condition
2012 [30] Health Communication To examine the indirect effect of Computer Mediated Social Support on doctor–patient communication through utilizing the sense of empowerment Quantitative Online survey 464 Korean patients with diabetes
2012 [38] Information Research To examine the use of an online health forum by married Korean women living in the USA who sought help for health and medical issues Qualitative Content analysis of posts 1000 messages posted to a health forum MissyUSA
2013 [14] International Journal of Medical Informatics To investigate whether communication in online patient support groups is a source of individual as well as collective empowerment or to be understood within the tradition of compliance Qualitative Analysis of posts 4301 posts from two online communities, one for patients with COPD and one for women with pregnancy problems
2013 [24] Journal of Health Psychology To explore how cancer patients’ writing and reading on the Internet play a role in their conditions experience Qualitative Focus-group interviews 34 Cancer patients
2013 [25] JRSM short reports To explore how participation in an online support community may impact upon the experience of inflammatory bowel disease Qualitative and Quantitative Online survey 249 patients living with either Crohn’s Disease (65.9 %) or Ulcerative Colitis (26.1 %) or awaiting formal diagnosis (8 %)
2013 [34] Nordic Journal of Psychiatry To evaluate if and how online self-help forums are used by patients with bipolar disorders, their relatives and treating professionals Qualitative and Quantitative Content analysis of posts 2400 postings of 218 users (Patients with Bipolar Disorder (94 %), Relatives (4 %), or Professionals (2 %))
2014 [1] Patient Education & Counseling To explore how individuals use online health community content in clinical discussions and how healthcare providers react to it Qualitative Focus groups 89 members of an online health community
2014 [17] Obstetrics & Gynecology To determine whether social media, specifically Facebook, is an effective tool for improving contraceptive knowledge Quantitative Survey 143 Patients who had scheduled a routine visit to a gynaecologist
2014 [21] Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine To explore the potentials of social networking sites as an adjunctive treatment modality for initiating treatment contact as well as for managing psychological problems Qualitative and Quantitative Interviews and an online survey 28 patients with any of the depressive or anxiety spectrum disorder
2014 [37] Reproductive Health To use the online platform of blogs to explore whether the framing effect of information content, situated learning of information content, and health knowledge involvement would affect health communication between doctors and patients and further explore whether this would increase patient willingness to seek treatment Quantitative Online survey 278 participants who were seeking medical treatment in a clinic or hospital in Taiwan
2014 [39] Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association To describe adults who use Twitter during a weight loss attempt and to compare the positive and negative social influences they experience from their offline friends, online friends, and family members Qualitative and Quantitative Survey 100 participants trying to lose weight
2016 [40] Counselling Psychology Quarterly To test for differences between offline and online psychological disclosure in case of young adults Quantitative Survey 128 young adults attending individual psychotherapy.