Social media use by orthodontic patients.N Z Dent J. 2013 Dec;109(4):130-3
Authors: Henzell M, Knight A, Antoun JS, Farella M
UNLABELLED: Internet-based social media sites have recently surged in popularity and are often used to share thoughts and seek support about health issues.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate how orthodontic patients use Internet-based social media sites to share their treatment-related experiences and attitudes towards braces. A secondary objective was to investigate whether an online or mobile application would be considered helpful in improving co-operation with the use of orthodontic appliances.
METHOD: Patients visiting the orthodontic clinic at the University of Otago were asked to participate in a cross-sectional survey that sought details of their Internet-based social media use and their thoughts about the development of a reminder application.
RESULTS: The sample comprised 130 orthodontic patients, with a mean age of 17.2 (SD 6.9) and a nearly equal sex distribution (52.3% were female). Internet-based social media sites were used by 80.8%, with Facebook being the most popular. Some 13.3% of the sample had posted comments about braces on these social media sites. Only 6.7% had considered obtaining information about orthodontic treatment from Internet-based social media sites, with the majority (81%) preferring to seek this information directly from their orthodontist. Nearly two-thirds of those who had difficulty remembering to wear their orthodontic appliances reported that a reminder application on their phone would be beneficial.
CONCLUSIONS: A large proportion of orthodontic patients use Internet-based social media sites, although only a few currently use them to post about treatment-related topics. Social media sites may provide a useful channel of communication for patients seeking support. Further research is needed to evaluate the use of phone reminder applications in orthodontics.