The Online Sharing of Instagram Images for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing

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Social media use related to chronic disease has become pervasive, yet little research has been done to examine how social media is currently used by healthcare consumers or how to best use various social media platforms to improve health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of Instagram use for image sharing related to #rheumatoidarthritis. A visual ethnography approach using content analysis was completed. Images for analysis (n = 106) were randomly selected, using the Instagram public search feature, during seven distinct periods. Content analysis, conducted by two coders, was used to identify categories and provide a sentiment analysis of the images. Approximately 75% of the images were determined to be positive by both coders. Social interaction and self-expression were the most frequently identified categories, suggesting that individuals use Instagram primarily for sharing awareness, sharing encouragement, and self-expression regarding rheumatoid arthritis. This finding is consistent with the use of Instagram for social networking and self-promotion. This study reveals new insights about how Instagram serves as a social, personal, and health-related information sharing platform particularly for those who may be socially isolated due to rheumatoid arthritis.