Social media 'can help to engage lupus sufferers'

Arthritis Research UK—November 12, 2013

A new study from the US has shed light on the potentially positive impact that social media can have on the lives of patients with lupus and other similar chronic diseases.

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City recently joined forces with the SLE Lupus Foundation, a charitable organization, to carry out Facebook chat sessions for lupus patients in order to educate them on their disease and underline the importance of maintaining relationships with rheumatologists.

Results presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting in San Diego showed how these online chat sessions were able to raise awareness of the condition, reach a wider audience, allow for interaction between patients and healthcare providers and answer patients' questions about lupus.

It was also observed that the hospital was able to greatly increase participation in the Facebook chats after partnering with the SLE Lupus Foundation, thanks to its status as a community-based organization.

Two online sessions organized by HSS alone were viewed by around 2,200 users each, whereas the jointly-organized chat event received a total of 6,624 views, with 123 active participants from six countries.

Dr. Jane Salmon, director of the Lupus Center of Excellence and senior author of the study, said: "The findings suggest that collaboration between healthcare providers and disease-specific community organizations can enhance patient participation and increase our ability to educate patients about staying healthy."

Read the full story at arthritisresearchuk.org.

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