Evaluation of Acceptance and Adoption of Health-care Information on Twitter by University Students



1.1       Background of the study

The internet, or more especially the websites on the World Wide Web, is always evolving due to technical advancements. As a result, has alterthe way health information is distributed on the social space. The usage of social media is one of these information transformations. A growing number of internet users now spend a significant amount of time on social networking platforms (Pew Internet, 2012). In recent years, the usage of social media, which is described as an internet-based technology that allows people to share ideas, opinions, and information through networks and communities, has risen dramatically. Social media are internet platforms that allow users to publish their own material. Facebook and Twitter are two prominent and widely utilized participatory platforms where users may read and publish various sorts of material. In comparison to static websites or other forms of mass communication, these advances make the internet a more dynamic medium. Furthermore, it draws its users closer together (Chou, Hunt, Beckjord, Moser, & Hesse, 2009).

Previous research into the effects of social media usage in healthcare found a variety of effects of social media use for health-related reasons in the healthcare system. Patients can use social media for support and information, while healthy individuals can use it for information. It promotes their autonomy, for example, by supplementing healthcare providers’ knowledge and offering emotional support (Bennett, G., & Glasgow, R. 2009). Healthy people and Patients’ usage of social media may also benefit healthcare personnel by serving as a tool for strengthening the organization’s market position and sparking dialogue for brand promotion and better service delivery.

Consequently, in reality, social media may have an impact on both patients and the healthcare system as a whole. It allows patients, in particular, to obtain assistance and supplement offline material, potentially increasing patient empowerment. According to Schein, R., Wilson, K., and Keelan, J. (2011), individuals’ use of social media has both positive and negative consequences on the healthcare system, posing a challenge to both patients and healthcare professionals. Because anybody with access to social media may give “advice” on how to cope with a specific health condition, it’s critical to establish dependable online communication channels to avoid health problems worsening. One incorrect concept on Twitter, for example, advised Nigerians to drink large amounts of salt water to treat Ebola. However, this may have resulted in two fatalities and more than a dozen hospitalizations. As a result, many healthcare experts are concerned that personal use of social media for health-related objectives frequently promotes misinformation among patients.

1.2       Statement of the problem

With the widespread use of social media, the traditional vertical system of sharing information from sources of scientific authority has been replaced by rapid horizontal information sharing from numerous sources, regardless of  whether  they  are  scientific  or  not. Social media enables the public sharing of information between anyone with an account and also used primarily to connect public figures such as politicians, celebrities, and athletes with the general public, additional uses of social media have arisen.  Melvin L., Chan T. (2014) opined that overtime, calls to improve the alienating and inaccessible language of healthcare in order to improve patient–physician communication are not unique, and continue to plague medicine. Thus, improving the transparency and accessibility of information in medicine is critical.             Since social media allows for the sharing of information, applications of social media to medicine have recently garnered a great deal of attention especially when it comes to Twitter platform. This is because Kuehn B.M. (2015) asserts that , Twitter is currently the most popular form of social media used for healthcare communication.

Conflicting opinions have stirred controversy about if and how medical professionals should use social media platforms in their work. Skeptics of social media in healthcare cite the potential for misinformation, conflicting advice, and unprofessionalism as evidence that social media is not an appropriate medium on which to share healthcare information (Pemmaraju N., Thompson M., Qazilbash M.2017). Some argue that social media has no place in healthcare, while others claim that the open sharing of information enabled by social media would revolutionize accessibility to medicine. However, considering certain limitations, such as the lack of reliability, confidentiality, and privacy of healthcare information on social media, misinformation shared through these platforms can lead society in adopting inaccurate views of health and this impact may vary between healthcare related and non-healthcare related ones. It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to evaluation of acceptance and adoption of health-care information on twitter by university students.

1.3       Objective of the study

The broad objective of this study is to present an evaluation of acceptance and adoption of health-care information on twitter by university students. Specifically the study seeks to:

  1. Determine the extent at which Twitter is used to spread healthcare information.
  2. Ascertain the benefit of using Twitter in sharing healthcare information.
  3. Investigate the potential risk associated with using twitter in healthcare.
  4. Determine if using twitter platform would influence undergraduates acceptance and adoption of health-care information.

1.4       Research Hypothesis

HO1: There are no potential risk associated to using Twitter Platform as mechanism for sharing healthcare information.

HO2: Using twitter platform would not influence undergraduates acceptance and adoption of health-care information.

1.5       Significance of the study

Findings from the study would have both empirical and practical significance. Empirically, it will contribute to the articulation of the social media usage  in sharing healthcare information and shaping health belief of university student. Practically the study will serve as a document for government and non-governmental organizations, policy makers and healthcare professionals aand the need to regulate the credibility of health information shared on Twitter. Additionally, the result of the stud  will serve as a data base to mass communication researchers who may be interested in learning the global healthcare infodemic and future researchers, who may embarking on similar research in future.

1.6       Scope of the study

The scope of this study borders on an evaluation of acceptance and adoption of health-care information on twitter by university students. The study will determine the extent at which Twitter is used to spread healthcare information. It will ascertain the benefit of using Twitter in sharing healthcare information. It will as well investigate the potential risk associated with using twitter in healthcare. The study is however delimited to university of Portharcourt in Rivers State.

1.7       Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that no recent study was conducted on the topic, thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. However in spite of the constraint, all  were downplayed  by the researcher while ensuring that the best is given.

1.8       Definition of terms

Social Media : this is the collection of websites and web-based systems that allow for mass interaction, conversation and sharing among members of a network.Its power lies in live pictures conveyed by video recording of events as it unfolds.Example of social media include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Watsapp and others

Public Health Behavior: Health behaviors are actions individuals take that affect their health. They include actions that lead to improved health, such as eating well and being physically active, and actions that increase one’s risk of disease, such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and risky sexual behavior.

Health Communication: Health communication is the study and practice of communicating promotional health information, such as in public health campaigns, health education, and between doctor and patient. The purpose of disseminating health information is to influence personal health choices by improving health literacy.




Choo E.Ranney M. Chan T. Trueger N. Walsh A. Tegtmeyer K., McNamara S.Choi R. Carroll C. (2015). Twitter as a tool for communication and knowledge exchange in academic medicine: A guide for skeptics and novices. Med. Teach. 2015;37:411–416. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.993371.

Pemmaraju N., Thompson M., Qazilbash M.(2017) Disease-specific hashtags and the creation of Twitter medical communities in hematology and oncology. Semin. Hematol.  doi: 10.1053/j.seminhematol.2017.08.004.

Melvin L., Chan T. (2014) Using Twitter in Clinical Education and Practice. J. Grad. Med. Educ. ;6:581–582. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-14-00342.1

Kuehn B.M. (2015) Twitter Streams Fuel Big Data Approaches to Health Forecasting. JAMA.;314:2010–2012. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.12836

Schein, R., Wilson, K., & Keelan, J. (2011). Effectiveness of the use of social media. PeelPublic Health. Toronto: Peel Public Health.

Bennett, G., & Glasgow, R. (2009). The Delivery of Public Health Interventions via the Internet: Actualizing their potential. Annual review of public health, 273.



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