Background Social media and web pages are becoming the firsthand access for health care users to find information and for self-education. There are many studies that show the advantages of integrating the Internet for health consumerism and communication purposes. Over 70% of the population has accessed a medical website or a health-related entertainment site; and more than half of these searches are for self-diagnosis. Television in the form of news and entertainment (drama series) is also being listed a primary source for health information. The internet, however, has its boundaries and set-backs. First and most importantly, access is limited to those confronting disparities that consistently have reported worse health than their counterparts and therefore are in greater need to obtain health information and education. Moreover, the benefits found on the internet are limited to those who have the skills to access the information (generally younger in age), to understand it, and analyze it. The opportunity to provide patients with medical education independently of their socioeconomic level and confronting disparities resides in understanding how the consumer seeks for health information and in identifying their patterns of media use for this purpose. Methods: In a cross-sectional study, eligible parents (Mexican-American, Lower SES, etc.) of pediatric patients attending non-emergency visits in seven University-based clinics in a large metropolitan city responded to a questionnaire on media usage. Sample included 101 parents (87% female), mean age 35.6 SD (9.4,) range 19-63. Questions targeted the use of electronic media for entertainment purposes as well as patterns when consulting medical issues. Results: The results indicate that 98% of the parents own a smartphone and 75.9% have internet connection. On a scale of 1 (min) to 5 (max), their ability to use computers include mean of 3.2 SD (1.29), and to use a smartphone 3.9 SD (1.13). The most entertaining electronic tool they owned was reported to be the television followed by the cellular phone. When asking the parents how they learn about a medical condition or how they acquire health information, their top choice was to consult digital media (92.6%), followed by consulting a health provider (57.4%) and asking friends (35.2%). Discussion: The results indicate that patterns of media usage among those confronting disparities include a higher access to electronic media for entertainment and medical information. In addition, self-evaluation of ability to use electronics is high. The opportunity to use health education presented in electronic media among pediatric patients confronting disparities should not be missed.
Medical information in social media: Patterns of use among Mexican-American parents of pediatric patients
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Marie Leiner, Daniela Villacis, Martha Sanchez, Jesus Peinado, Paulina Hernandez, Maria Theresa M. Villanos; Medical information in social media: Patterns of use among Mexican-American parents of pediatric patients. Pediatrics May 2018; 142 (1_MeetingAbstract): 623. 10.1542/peds.142.1MA7.623
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