Social networking and understanding alcohol-associated risk for people with type 1 diabetes: friend or foe?
BACKGROUND: Online communication has become popular in recent years, especially for young people. Limited research exists into how people with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) discuss risks about diabetes. Alcohol use by people with T1DM, as in the rest of society, is common and may adversely affect diabetes management. This study reviewed the literature on social networking as a communication tool and conducted a systematic search of social networking sites to determine whether people with T1DM use them to discuss risks associated with diabetes and alcohol consumption. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Systematic literature review was performed followed by an Internet search and forum identification relating to T1DM and alcohol. Qualitative coding and thematic analysis of publicly available data retrieved from social networking sites were undertaken. RESULTS: In the literature review, 292 articles were identified, of which six met the inclusion criteria. Widespread use of social media for medical advice pertaining to diabetes was reported. The quality and safety of online advice were reported as variable. Ten Web sites with 247 individual postings about alcohol and diabetes were selected for analysis, which revealed six themes ranging from safety and seeking and provision of advice to wider views about behaviors, opinions, and experiences of people with T1DM and alcohol. No specific professional health information was identified on any sites, and inaccurate information was common. CONCLUSIONS: Online resources are used by people with T1DM to find information about diabetes and alcohol consumption. Easily signposted and accessible professional online resources would ensure people can access appropriate advice to minimize risks of alcohol use.
Jones, E; Sinclair, JMA; Holt, RIG; Barnard, KD
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