Could Facebook Aid in Back Pain Treatment?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 20, 2016

Facebook back pain

More than 80 percent of American adults who use the internet have a Facebook account, so it’s no surprise that advertising on the social media site is in high demand. While the vast majority of adults have a Facebook account, the social media site also tends to cater to a younger crowd compared to traditional forms of media like newspapers or magazines.

In the medical field, early detection to treat a condition is preferred as outcomes are more favorable. So it stands to reason that using Facebook to bring attention to certain health conditions would likely reach a younger audience than traditional forms of media, and this younger generation would likely have less serious symptoms than older individuals.

A Facebook Test

To see if targeting consumers through Facebook as opposed to traditional forms of media could help get patients in need of treatment to a doctor earlier in life, researchers devised a test. For the study, researchers took out advertisements on Facebook and traditional media sources like newspaper and magazine ads to share symptoms of inflammatory back pain. The ads also explained that people experiencing these symptoms should consider getting an MRI and treatment from a specialist as opposed to an X-ray and care from a primary-care physician.

“Patients with inflammatory back pain (IBP) can wait years for a correct diagnosis,” said Dr. Arumugam Moorthy of the Department of Rheumatology, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS trust, UK. “Early treatment is critical in achieving better outcomes for these patients. We applied a novel recruitment method using Facebook over five months to identify adults in the community with symptoms suggestive of IBP, comparing the outcome with other forms of recruitment, principally newspaper advertising,”

Facebook Leads To Better Spine Treatment

Researchers found that 585 patients responded to the educational communications explaining the conditions of inflammatory back disease. Of the 585 respondents, more than 75 percent were recruited through Facebook, while the remaining individuals were found through the traditional sources like the newspaper. Here’s what researchers found:

  • The mean age of the Facebook group was 41.5 years, while the mean age of the non-Facebook group was 59.4 years.
  • 45 percent of the Facebook group reported having an MRI and 45 percent reported having an X-ray, and in the non-Facebook group, 50 percent reported having an MRI and 59 percent received an X-ray.

Dr. Moorthy concluded that Facebook advertising helped recruit a younger audience, and that can help lead to better outcomes for inflammatory back pain.

“Facebook advertising recruited a younger group of respondents and a higher proportion of them fulfilled the criteria for a diagnosis of IBP compared to the group of patients recruited by other methods,” said Dr. Moorthy.

So keep an eye on those Facebook advertisements, as they might just help you get the diagnosis you need. Just don’t hunch forward and strain your neck and spine while you’re online!

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