According to a survey by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society of more than 500 UK and US Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, more people found more information online (34%) compared to that offered by both health professionals (32%) and charities (26%).
Facebook was still the most popular site used by respondents overall (90%), however only 31% listed this as the site they find most useful in relation to their condition. European health network start-up HealthUnlocked was used by 29% of respondents but 26% reported it as the most useful with regard to their condition, making it the second most useful site for support overall after Facebook.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that using their preferred or ‘most useful’ site more than once a day, with 77% of respondents confirming that joining their preferred site has been helpful in the management of their condition. Crucially, 70% of respondents listed the ability to learn from other patient’s questions and answer forums online as the most important feature that a social network enables over traditional forms of care
“Previous research into social media use by patients with long term conditions suggests that by joining online communities, patients can find emotional and informational support that has a positive impact on their mental health. Our research supports these findings and highlights the great value placed on social media by those living with Rheumatoid Arthritis,” said Ailsa Bosworth, Chief Executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, and herself an RA patient.