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Quality of Facebook Pages on Food Allergy: Many Food Ingredient Alerts and Event Announcements but Little Research News and Patient Education
Saturday, March 5, 2016: 2:15 PM
Room 404AB (Convention Center)
Mosaab Mohameden, ,
Rationale:

Facebook is the most popular and frequently used social media website in US. One third of American adults reported using social network sites, such as Facebook or Twitter as a source of health information. Our study aimed to determine the quality of health information on Facebook pages dedicated to food allergy.

Methods:

Facebook main page was searched for “food allergy” to retrieve top ten pages dedicated to the topic. A 0-9 score for quality content was developed based on the guidelines by National Library of Medicine, focusing on 9 domains: author/organization, reviewer, contact info, authenticity, language used (simple vs scientific), evidence-based vs. opinion, references vs. testimonials, current information, sponsorship, commercial interest. The score was used to analyze the last 10 posts of each Facebook page. Posts were categorized into 5 groups: food ingredient alerts, patient education, research news, event announcements, legislation updates.

Results:

37% of posts were announcements/advertisements, 29% were related to patient education, 9% legislation updates, only 5% were research news. Quality score was relatively high with an average of  7.1 (0-9). Most pages were by patient advocate organizations. Only one was by a physician specialty organization, and one by an allergy practice.

Conclusions:

In spite of the wide popularity of Facebook, only a minority of the pages on food allergy contained patient education information. A paucity of research news was likely related to low engagement by allergists/immunologists. Professional use of Facebook by allergists/immunologists for patient education and sharing research news should be encouraged and its implications explored.