Ano is a Justmeans staff writer for health, and an instructional designer for the newly created Master of Health Care Delivery program (mhcds.dartmouth.edu) at Dartmouth College. Ano brings over a decade of evidenced-based health research and writing, and a Masters of Public Health from Dartmouth Medical School to the Justmeans Editorial section. Special interests include health policy, conflict ...
Health brief: Online tools for social support
#2 of 4 health miniblogs to celebrate the end of the year here at Justmeans.
Two interesting papers in the Journal of Internet Research provide help and hope for online health tools. In one study, 79% of participants in an online health improvement (exercise) program with a social media component lasted for the entire 16 weeks of the program, compared with 66% enrolled in an identical program lacking the social bit.
"Brick by brick we have been building a model of how to change health behaviors using online tools," says the lead author. "We can see that social components can help to mitigate the big downside that Internet-mediated programs have had in the past, namely attrition."
The second paper looked at successful strategies for maintaining social interactions online. Their short list:
-"Use a small number of conversation spaces rather than many specialized ones.
-Have staff respond to user posts when other users don't and post new topics when there is a lull in the conversation.
-And conduct contests with small prizes."
"We know from this study that online communities can help to keep people engaged," says the lead author of that paper. "But it can be hard to build a critical mass of participation. We found that with the right kinds of staff participation, it's possible even within a small population to get the conversations going."
What tips do you have for initiating or maintaining online social interactions, particularly around health improvement?
Other posts in this series:
#1: The death of mortality as a meaningful measure?
#3: Language that inspires health action
#4: Emotional intelligence in private vs. public sectors