The study purpose was to determine the role of social networks in medication information seeking behavior by describing the structure of social networks that provide information, the content provided, and the function of information in addition to individual characteristics of people who use various types of social networks to obtain medication information. This was an exploratory qualitative research study, which used volunteering participants who were at least eighteen years old. Forty subjects completed a personal interview that measured aspects of one's social network as a modality to seek medication information. Data were audio recorded and transcribed using theory and prior research driven themes as a basis for ethnographic content analysis. Phase I analysis found that social network structures used for obtaining medication information were made up of health professionals and lay social contacts. Content themes included factual information, personal experiences, and beliefs and attitudes. Function themes were identified as decision making, diagnosis, monitoring, prescriptive or recommendations, social support, staying informed, or validation. Phase II analysis used clustering of social network types and themes to create coding intersections within the data to explore co-occurring thematic concepts. Social network contacts displayed different roles for what content was provided and the subsequent function of the information. For health professionals, the strongest content related role was to provide factual information functioning to support patient decision making, monitoring, recommendations, staying informed, and validation of information. In contrast, the role of content provision from lay contacts was to provide factual information, personal experiences and beliefs and attitudes functioning to support decision making, monitoring, recommendations, social support, staying informed, or validation of information. Findings from this study described the role of social networks in medication information seeking behavior of patients as complex, dynamic, and important to the medication use experience. The study concluded that patients use social network contacts from both inside and outside of health care to satisfy all types of information needs. Finally, by coming to a more complete understanding of the social nature of the information environment, health professionals can better understand information needs from a patient's perspective.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major: Social, Administrative, and Clinical Pharmacy. Advisors: Jon C. Schommer, Ph.D. & Marcia M. Worley, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 246 pages, appendices A-F. Ill. (some col.)
Kjos, Andrea Lee.
The role of social networks in medication information seeking behavior.
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