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Title: Pregnancy-related information seeking and sharing in the social media era among expectant mothers in China: Qualitative study
Authors: Zhu, C
Zeng, R
Zhang, W
Evans, R
He, R
Keywords: Pregnant women;Social media;Information seeking;Consumer health information;China
Issue Date: 4-Dec-2019
Publisher: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Citation: Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2019, 21 (12), pp. 1 - 11
Abstract: Background: Social media has become the most popular communication tool used by Chinese citizens, including expectant mothers. An increasing number of women have adopted various forms of social media channels, such as interactive websites, instant messaging, and mobile apps, to solve problems and obtain answers to queries during pregnancy. Although the use of the internet by pregnant women has been studied extensively worldwide, limited research exists that explores the changing social media usage habits in China, where the 1 child policy ended in 2015. Objective: This study aimed to (1) present the status quo of pregnancy-related information seeking and sharing via social media among Chinese expectant mothers, (2) reveal the impact of social media usage, and (3) shed light on pregnancy-related health services delivered via social media channels. Methods: A qualitative approach was employed to examine social media usage and its consequences on pregnant women. A total of 20 women who had conceived and were at various stages of pregnancy were interviewed from July 20 to August 10, 2017. Thematic analysis was conducted on the collected data to identify patterns in usage. Results: Overall, 80% (16/20) of participants were aged in their 20s (mean 28.5 years [SD 4.3]). All had used social media for pregnancy-related purposes. For the seeking behavior, 18 codes were merged into 4 themes, namely, gravida, fetus, delivery, and the postpartum period; whereas for sharing behaviors, 10 codes were merged into 4 themes, namely, gravida, fetus, delivery, and caretaker. Lurking, small group sharing, bad news avoidance, and cross-checking were identified as the preferred patterns for using social media. Overall, 95% (19/20) of participants reported a positive mental impact from using social media during their pregnancy. Conclusions: It is indisputable that social media has played an increasingly important role in supporting expectant mothers in China. The specific seeking and sharing patterns identified in this study indicate that the general quality of pregnancy-related information on social media, as well as Chinese culture toward pregnancy, is improving. The new themes that merge in pregnancy-related social media use represent a shift toward safe pregnancy and the promotion of a more enjoyable pregnancy. Future prenatal care should provide further information on services related to being comfortable during pregnancy and reducing the inequality of social media–based services caused by the digital divide.
ISSN: 1439-4456
Appears in Collections:Brunel Design School Research Papers

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