The impact of social media as a source of health information: Measure the degree of reliability

Ali Ahmed Al-Omari, Dr.Izzat Abdel Aziz Mansour


The aim of this study is to measure the degree of confidence in the role played by social media websites as a source of health information, to identify the most important of these websites, and to detect the positive and negative effects resulting from the use of them. In order to achieve these objectives, the study is based on the social survey method. The survey questionnaires were used to collect data. The research was applied in King Abdul Aziz University on a sample of 345 postgraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in 2018. Those holding a university qualification represent the stratified random sampling.

     The study reached a number of results, the most important of which is that 81% of the participants reported that using social media websites to gain awareness and to ensure the reliability of mutual health information was effective. It was also found that all the effects of participants' reliance on social media as a source of health information under study were of interest to participants; for the most health, topics that drew the interest of the participants on the social media websites were "first aid" followed by "a specific type of diseases or diseases in general". The results of the test showed that males deal with health issues such as serious diseases, non-serious seasonal diseases, diseases that scientists have discovered more recently than females; while females focus more on issues of reproduction, women's and children's health, as well as mental and psychological health more than males.

     It was also found that the relationship between health issues that are talked about more than others in social media websites, and years of practical experience revealed the existence of differences between the different categories of years of practical experience for serious diseases. It turned out that people with more than 15 years of experience are dealing with the subject of serious diseases more than those with less than five years of practical experience.

     The study has revealed that the first source to rely on when seeking health information was "doctors and pharmacists" followed by "the Internet". The use of these websites has many positive effects; the most important of which are the intellectual openness, the exchange of knowledge, and the dissemination of health awareness. However, the increase of fears and concerns are among the most negative effects.

The study is concluded with a set of recommendations; for instance:

  • To organize awareness sessions for postgraduate students about how to use social media websites in the health field
  • To employ modern communication technology in the process of spreading health awareness
  • To conduct similar studies on different communities, including: faculty staff-members, university undergraduate students, and students at basic school levels


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