The Role of Social Media as a Source of Information on Nursing Home Care Decision Making

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Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet





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While a number of federal and state websites have been established to intermediate the need for nursing home selection, the brevity of their use by prospective nursing home patients and their families suggests that there may be a way in which highly familiar social media networks may be used to subsidize, complement, or increase the use of more formal online sources of knowledge regarding nursing homes. Preliminary to such a recommendation is the need to characterize the current use of social media sites as a source of nursing home information. This study is designed to initiate inquiry into this research by using Yahoo! Answers, a social media site with significant nursing homes content. The study found that 88.9% (N = 99) of the “askers” sought information on behalf of a mother (29.3%), a father (19.2%), or grandparents (24.3%). Approximately 45% sought information before nursing home placement had occurred and 54% did so for a parent, grandparent, or other who had already been admitted. Relative to the type of information sought, 64.1% sought knowledge-based input, 34.4% involved the need for assurances regarding their proposed actions, and 60.3% solicited the opinions of others regarding some aspect of their nursing home decision-making processes. The analysis also lent specificity to the exact informational needs of Yahoo! Answer users regarding their informational search. Thus, while nursing home consumers use formal websites to seek knowledge regarding nursing home quality, social media websites play a different yet complementary role. © 2016, Published with license by Taylor & Francis © Darren Liu, Chi-Jung Lu, and Betty Burston.


Consumer health information; consumer-generated information; information seeking behavior; Internet; nursing home compare



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