Social Media Health Communication: A Cross-Cultural Investigation on the Motivations and Challenges of Using Participatory Technology to Communicate with Patients

L. Meghan Mahoney 1 *, Bessie Lawton 1, Lukas Pelliccio 1

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The purpose of this study is to better understand how physicians utilize social media technologies to facilitate patient communication and the motivations and barriers towards doing so. Additionally, it explores how power distances influences physician’s willingness to utilize social media as a resource in health communication by conducting in-depth interviews with physicians in the United States and in the Phillippines, based on divergent power distance scores from Hofstede’s (2010) research. Qualitative analysis of transcripts revealed two major themes : 1) hesitancy in utilizing social media in doctorpatient communication for diagnosis and treatment; and 2) the role of social media for marketing, education, and communicating with hard-to-reach patients. These findings suggest that although physicians understand the many possible benefits of utilizing social media for health communication, there are many other factors to consider. Cultural issues should be taken into account as future social media health communication programs are developed.


Social Media Health Communication Power Distance Media Studies


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 5, Issue 3, July 2015, pp. 141-161

Published Online: 15 Jul 2015

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