iCon: Utilizing Facebook to Deliver Best-Practice Concussion Management

Osman Hassan Ahmed* Osman Hassan Ahmed*, Centre for Physiotherapy Research, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
S. John Sullivan, Centre for Physiotherapy Research, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Anthony G. Schneiders, Centre for Physiotherapy Research, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Paul R. Mccrory, Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Track: Practice
Presentation Topic: Web 2.0 approaches for clinical practice, clinical research, quality monitoring
Presentation Type: Poster presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: LKSC Conference Center Stanford
Room: Lower Lobby
Date: 2011-09-18 12:00 PM – 01:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-08-15

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A concussion is a brain injury caused by direct or indirect forces to the head and is common in contact sports. Concussion management centers on physical and cognitive rest during the early stages post-injury, with a graded return to full activity. Our research has focused on exploring the potential of Web 2.0 technology to provide best-practice concussion information to individuals recovering from a concussion. This has led to the creation of “iCon” (interactive concussion management), a concussion management intervention operated through the Social Networking Site Facebook as an adjunct to usual medical care. iCon is a “closed” Facebook group facilitated by experienced healthcare professionals. The patient’s doctor will remain their primary point of contact, however iCon will offer the opportunity to share concussion-related experiences with other concussed individuals, best-practice concussion information in an easy-to-read format, real-time feedback from healthcare professionals, and links to high-quality concussion-related websites. A systematic methodological approach was adopted for the development of iCon consisting of: evaluation of existing concussion-themed Facebook groups; needs assessment of individuals (stakeholders) who had experienced concussion; stakeholder consultation with medical practitioners; and evaluation of information provided on concussion-related websites. The initial phase in the design of iCon was a content analysis of 17 concussion-related Facebook groups. Individuals were found to use Facebook primarily to share injury-related experiences, and we termed this online support “iSupport” (interactive support). The use of Facebook groups in this manner suggested that Facebook could be an appropriate means to facilitate knowledge transfer about concussion management. To source stakeholder opinions regarding the acceptability of iCon, a series of focus groups involving persons who had experienced a concussion were conducted. These groups showed that individuals were keen to use Facebook to receive prompt, accurate medical advice from a trained health care professional and to seek “iSupport” from other concussed individuals. Further stakeholder consultations through semi-structured interviews with medical practitioners supported the use of Facebook to deliver concussion-related information, and suggested the components of concussion management that should be included in iCon. The selection of creditable resources to include as part of iCon was established by evaluating the information quality, content and readability of 43 existing concussion-related websites. Results from this showed that some websites are medically inaccurate and potentially misleading. The purpose of our study is to determine whether iCon is a valuable adjunct to face-to-face medical care, and if the resources offered through iCon are an improvement over existing online concussion information. Due to the variable nature of concussion, medical information should ideally be personalized for each patient and this will be possible through iCon. A preliminary small-scale trial of iCon has been granted ethical approval and is in progress for young persons who have sustained a sports concussion. The success of iCon will be primarily measured using impact evaluation methodology, focusing on the satisfaction of iCon users and their compliance with this concussion-specific application of Medicine 2.0. Objective measurements will also be made of symptoms prior to and following iCon using elements of the SCAT2 assessment tool.

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