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Information exchange in social networks for health care

Ian Clark Sinapuelas (Department of Marketing, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA)
Foo Nin Ho (Department of Marketing, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 12 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to uncover the predictors of information exchange in social networking for health (SNH) care.

Design/methodology/approach

Using two national studies of consumers in the USA, this research examines how trust and social connections influence information exchange. The empirical analyses use a two-stage estimation approach and structural equation modeling.

Findings

The results show that higher trust encourages information getting, while social connections encourage information giving. In contrast to previous findings, this study shows that trust does not affect information giving when social connections are included in the model.

Research limitations/implications

This study focuses on the role of trust and social connections in predicting information exchange in SNH. Research on general social media use has explored the role of personalities in predicting use. While this study controls for demographic variables that correlate strongly with personality types that are significant predictors, future research can determine which of the big-five personality factors correlate with information exchange. While social media usage has been steadily increasing from 2005 to 2015, the authors are unable to track changes in social media activities in healthcare over time as this study uses cross-sectional data. Future research can use panel data that can track these changes.

Practical implications

First, managers of social networks can encourage individuals with expansive networks to share their stories, as they are more likely to offer information. Second, they need to build the trust of individuals before fully reaping the benefits of SNH. This issue is especially critical for SNH if medical practitioners and public health officials need to use SNH as a communication channel. Third, medical practitioners and public health officials may need to intervene when misinformation is prevalent in SNH.

Social implications

Health-care providers and public health officials informed of information exchange predictors can modify their strategies in enacting health-related policies.

Originality/value

This research is the first to explore the links between trust, social connections and information exchange in SNH care. This research contributes to existing knowledge by identifying the important roles of trust and social connections and separate routes that these constructs influence information exchange.

Keywords

Citation

Sinapuelas, I.C. and Ho, F.N. (2019), "Information exchange in social networks for health care", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 692-702. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-12-2017-2470

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited