Using Social Media for More Engaged Users and Enhanced Health Communication in Diabetes Care

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Background: Recent literature identified social media message features predictive of user engagement. Desired information from a patient perspective and use of social media information from a provider perspective in diabetes care is less clear. Purpose: Our study analyzed diabetes patients’ desired information from social media and how such information could be used in conjunction with doctor–patient communication to enhance compliance with recommended care. Methods: A survey examined diabetic patients’ interests in searching for various diabetes information on social media and assessed the potential impact of social media sourced information on doctor–patient communication. This survey was followed by a content analysis of major US diabetes organizations’ Facebook pages, which were considered for effectiveness in their communication with diabetes patients. Results: Survey participants were most interested in diabetes management recommendations. Diabetes knowledge positively correlated with interests in diabetes management recommendations but negatively correlated with prior use of social media for diabetes information. 70.9% of patients had discussed information from social media with their doctor. The content analysis showed narrative evidence and updates on diabetes-related research findings, and medical policies generated a higher level of user engagement. Conclusion: While survey participants showed greatest interests in health recommendations and tips, only 11.7% of the analyzed social media posts included such information. Posts that included diabetes-related information led to higher engagement than posts that emphasized social values. Patients in general have asked doctors about information received on social media which suggests that social media can be a useful platform for communicating diabetes care information.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • common-sense model
  • diabetes management
  • health communication
  • social media


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