The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Understanding online and offline social networks in illness management of elderly patients with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: mixed-method study using quantitative social network assessment and qualitative analysis

Understanding online and offline social networks in illness management of elderly patients with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: mixed-method study using quantitative social network assessment and qualitative analysis
Understanding online and offline social networks in illness management of elderly patients with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: mixed-method study using quantitative social network assessment and qualitative analysis
Background: individuals' social networks and social support are fundamental determinants of self-management and self-efficacy. In chronic respiratory conditions, social support can be promoted and optimized to facilitate the self-management of breathlessness.

Objective: this study aimed to identify how online and offline social networks play a role in the health management of older patients with chronic respiratory conditions, explore the role of support from online peers in patients' self-management, and understand the barriers to and potential benefits of digital social interventions.

Methods: we recruited participants from a hospital-run singing group to a workshop in London, the United Kingdom, and adapted PERSNET, a quantitative social network assessment tool. The second workshop was replaced by telephone interviews because of the COVID-19 lockdown. The transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: a total of 7 participants (2/7, 29%, men and 5/7, 71%, women), with an age range of 64 to 81 years, produced network maps that comprised between 5 and 10 individuals, including family members, health care professionals, colleagues, activity groups, offline and online friends, and peers. The visual maps facilitated reflections and enhanced participants' understanding of the role of offline and online social networks in the management of chronic respiratory conditions. It also highlighted the work undertaken by the networks themselves in the self-management support. Participants with small, close-knit networks received physical, health, and emotional support, whereas those with more diverse and large networks benefited from accessing alternative and complementary sources of information. Participants in the latter type of network tended to communicate more openly and comfortably about their illness, shared the impact of their illness on their day-to-day life, and demonstrated distinct traits in terms of identity and perception of chronic disease. Participants described the potential benefits of expanding their networks to include online peers as sources of novel information, motivation, and access to supportive environments. Lack of technological skills, fear of being scammed, or preference for keeping illness-related problems for themselves and immediate family were reported by some as barriers to engaging with online peer support.

Conclusions: in this small-scale study, the social network assessment tool proved feasible and acceptable. These data show the value of using a social network tool as a research tool that can help assess and understand network structure and engagement in the self-management support and could be developed into an intervention to support self-management. Patients' preferences to share illness experiences with their online peers, as well as the contexts in which this can be acceptable, should be considered when developing and offering digital social interventions. Future studies can explore the evolution of the social networks of older people with chronic illnesses to understand whether their willingness to engage with online peers can change over time.
Asthma, COPD, Digital health, Elderly, Mobile phone, Online forums, Online health communities, Self-management, Social networks
e35244
Andreou, Andreas
455c98d5-5a6a-4e7b-beb6-c02feea5420e
Dhand, Amar
52f5e6b2-b021-4524-8e62-647e9c7d788d
Vassilev, Ivaylo
d76a5531-4ddc-4eb2-909b-a2a1068f05f3
Griffiths, Chris
9be94e58-34bb-43e5-a9c2-425cbf50cc86
Panzarasa, Pietro
794e4283-6b2a-4c07-b53a-02d84c0ad200
De Simoni, Anna
5f436fbb-2b39-4a10-9a5b-a51184b7e53a
Andreou, Andreas
455c98d5-5a6a-4e7b-beb6-c02feea5420e
Dhand, Amar
52f5e6b2-b021-4524-8e62-647e9c7d788d
Vassilev, Ivaylo
d76a5531-4ddc-4eb2-909b-a2a1068f05f3
Griffiths, Chris
9be94e58-34bb-43e5-a9c2-425cbf50cc86
Panzarasa, Pietro
794e4283-6b2a-4c07-b53a-02d84c0ad200
De Simoni, Anna
5f436fbb-2b39-4a10-9a5b-a51184b7e53a

Andreou, Andreas, Dhand, Amar, Vassilev, Ivaylo, Griffiths, Chris, Panzarasa, Pietro and De Simoni, Anna (2022) Understanding online and offline social networks in illness management of elderly patients with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: mixed-method study using quantitative social network assessment and qualitative analysis. JMIR Formative Research, 6 (5), e35244, [e35244]. (doi:10.2196/35244).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: individuals' social networks and social support are fundamental determinants of self-management and self-efficacy. In chronic respiratory conditions, social support can be promoted and optimized to facilitate the self-management of breathlessness.

Objective: this study aimed to identify how online and offline social networks play a role in the health management of older patients with chronic respiratory conditions, explore the role of support from online peers in patients' self-management, and understand the barriers to and potential benefits of digital social interventions.

Methods: we recruited participants from a hospital-run singing group to a workshop in London, the United Kingdom, and adapted PERSNET, a quantitative social network assessment tool. The second workshop was replaced by telephone interviews because of the COVID-19 lockdown. The transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: a total of 7 participants (2/7, 29%, men and 5/7, 71%, women), with an age range of 64 to 81 years, produced network maps that comprised between 5 and 10 individuals, including family members, health care professionals, colleagues, activity groups, offline and online friends, and peers. The visual maps facilitated reflections and enhanced participants' understanding of the role of offline and online social networks in the management of chronic respiratory conditions. It also highlighted the work undertaken by the networks themselves in the self-management support. Participants with small, close-knit networks received physical, health, and emotional support, whereas those with more diverse and large networks benefited from accessing alternative and complementary sources of information. Participants in the latter type of network tended to communicate more openly and comfortably about their illness, shared the impact of their illness on their day-to-day life, and demonstrated distinct traits in terms of identity and perception of chronic disease. Participants described the potential benefits of expanding their networks to include online peers as sources of novel information, motivation, and access to supportive environments. Lack of technological skills, fear of being scammed, or preference for keeping illness-related problems for themselves and immediate family were reported by some as barriers to engaging with online peer support.

Conclusions: in this small-scale study, the social network assessment tool proved feasible and acceptable. These data show the value of using a social network tool as a research tool that can help assess and understand network structure and engagement in the self-management support and could be developed into an intervention to support self-management. Patients' preferences to share illness experiences with their online peers, as well as the contexts in which this can be acceptable, should be considered when developing and offering digital social interventions. Future studies can explore the evolution of the social networks of older people with chronic illnesses to understand whether their willingness to engage with online peers can change over time.

Text
Understanding Online and Offline Social Networks in Illness - Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only
Request a copy
Text
PDF (7) - Version of Record
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (1MB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 25 March 2022
e-pub ahead of print date: 17 May 2022
Published date: 17 May 2022
Additional Information: Funding Information: The study was funded by the Queen Mary University of London Centre for Public Engagement small award Promoting Research in Social Media and Health and by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Program Grant for Applied Research (NIHR PGfAR reference 202037, Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a digital social intervention for people with troublesome asthma promoted by primary care clinicians). ADS was partly funded by Barts Charity (reference MGU0419 Research Actionable Learning Health Systems Asthma program). The views expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care. Publisher Copyright: ©Andreas Andreou, Amar Dhand, Ivaylo Vassilev, Chris Griffiths, Pietro Panzarasa, Anna De Simoni.
Keywords: Asthma, COPD, Digital health, Elderly, Mobile phone, Online forums, Online health communities, Self-management, Social networks

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 467290
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/467290
PURE UUID: 2d6c9dcf-b42b-4eee-8b49-0a7d9c5c1c39
ORCID for Ivaylo Vassilev: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2206-8247

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Jul 2022 16:45
Last modified: 11 Aug 2022 01:46

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: Andreas Andreou
Author: Amar Dhand
Author: Ivaylo Vassilev ORCID iD
Author: Chris Griffiths
Author: Pietro Panzarasa
Author: Anna De Simoni

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×