Social Media Use for Inflammatory Bowel Disease in a Rural Appalachian Population

Telemed J E Health. 2020 Jun 18.doi: 10.1089/tmj.2020.0014. Online ahead of print.

Tarika Sejal Chowdhary 1, Jesse Thompson 1, Swapna Gayam 2


Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.
  • 2Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.


Background: Social media use is prevalent in our society and has become widely used in the health care community. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients constitute one of the patient populations that benefit from social media use to obtain information on their diseases. West Virginia (WV) is a rural Appalachian state with barriers to internet access and health care and we examined the role that social media plays in patients' lives in this state, which could be reflective of other rural states. Methods: Our patient population consisted of patients, 18-65 years old, who live in WV with a diagnosis of IBD. A 17-question survey was sent to 2,131 patients over a course of 4 weeks through an application called REDCap. Results: We received 624 responses with a 29% response rate. Approximately 30% of patients reported that they used Facebook for IBD-related information, while 4.3% used Instagram. While most (92%) patients preferred information coming from their physician, the majority judged information from the internet to be reliable (39.3%) or neutral (44.9%). Most patients believed that social media had no impact on their disease management (67%), while 30.3% believed it had a positive impact. Almost 45% of patients stated that they wished their physician had a social media account for IBD. Conclusions: Our study shows that patients are interested in obtaining health-related information from social media resources. As physicians, it is our job to point them in the right direction to be able to find reliable information.

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