Phrashiah Githinji, Martin K Githinji, Scolastica N. Kariuki- Githinji

Bridging the Gap: The Role of Social Media Support Groups in Diabetes Care and Management

  • General Medicine

Background: With the growing prevalence of diabetes in Kenya and the complex challenges of managing the disease, individuals with diabetes increasingly turn to social media (SM) support groups. This study explores how these individuals engage with SM support groups and how they verify the information shared within these platforms. Methods: A qualitative study was conducted from June-August 2022. Participants (n=15) were purposively recruited from Facebook and WhatsApp social support groups exclusively for those with diabetes. Participants included adults diagnosed with diabetes and were active members of the SM support group. Data was collected virtually through in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted via Zoom. Data was transcribed, coded, and analyzed using content analysis. Results: Five themes were constructed: 1) SM support groups provide accessible and affordable health information, 2) Participants leverage support groups as an alternative to formal professional healthcare engagement, 3) Participants leverage SM support groups to learn from peer-driven experiences and strategies to enhance diabetes self-care 4) Participants value community empathy and peer support in SM support groups 5) Participants strategies of authenticating and verifying information from SM support groups. Conclusion: The study highlights the multifaceted role of SM groups in diabetes care in Kenya, suggesting the need for healthcare professionals to collaborate with these online communities. It emphasizes the necessity for accurate information verification and points to the future integration of SM groups into formal healthcare strategies. Key words: Diabetes, social media, support groups, diabetes self-care, diabetes management

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