Does Offline Culture Matter to Online Health Communities?

breast cancer support

flickr: njaanne

One reason I like reviewing emerging research is that it helps me view common issues with a new perspective.  Often an issue is “right under our nose,” but we overlook it because it has become so familiar to us.

That was my experience when I read Lesego Bertha Kgatitswe’s thesis published through the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work explores the use of virtual support groups by women diagnosed with breast cancer.

I have read other studies about building online communities before, specifically for preventing and managing illnesses, however what struck me with Kgatitswe’s work is that it intentionally frames breast cancer as a “gendered disease” (because the majority of patients are female) and recognizes the importance of the offline social and cultural backdrop as she studied online community interactions. Read more

Hospitals: Five Mistaken Beliefs that Lead to Social Media HIPAA Violations

Photo Credit: Declan

Whether they host social media sites or not, most US hospitals have realized how important it is to develop social media policies for their employees.

But a quick Google search shows that the majority of HIPAA violations related to social media – at least those reported in the media – don’t take place on official healthcare social media sites at all. Instead, they’re posted on personal Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

What were they thinking? Read more