Predictors of health professionals' and health consumers' social media adoption behaviours

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Social media is an emerging force and a relatively untapped resource in the healthcare domain. It now presents numerous opportunities and benefits for health professionals, health consumers, and auxiliary service providers. Health service providers are increasingly recognising the strategic importance of incorporating social media in their practice which is contributing to the beginning of a paradigm shift emerging across the healthcare sector.
    Despite social media’s growing popularity, empirical research on the primary stakeholders of social media comprising health professionals and health consumers is relatively limited. Only limited research has been undertaken on understanding how health professionals and consumers perceive social media usage in the healthcare sector. Given this state of affairs, this research aims to investigate the underlying drivers affecting health professionals’ and health consumers’ social media usage and acceptance behaviours.
    The theoretical framework developed for this research consolidates three leading technology adoption models: Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) and Expectation Confirmation Model (ECM). The proposed research model explains the usefulness, barriers to usage, and other relevant factors such as peer influence, supporting conditions, perceived cost and self-efficacy affecting health professionals’ and consumers’ social media adoption behaviours.
    The research design of the study is grounded on a sequential mixed method approach, where the qualitative phase precedes the quantitative phase. In the qualitative phase, semi-structured interviews with sixteen health professionals were conducted to obtain an in-depth insight into the factors impacting on social media adoption behaviours. The major findings emerging from the qualitative phase of this research suggest that social media tools offer five significant benefits: (i) they facilitate communication between health professionals, health service providers, and the consumers; (ii) provide greater support for the health community; (iii) enable learning for both health professionals and health consumers; (iv) enhance their professional network; and (v) expedite healthcare promotion strategies. Findings also indicate five noteworthy barriers to usage and adoption of social media including: (i) inefficiency; (ii) privacy concerns; (iii) poor information quality; (iv) lack of trust; and (v) blurred professional boundaries. Usefulness and barriers aside, peer influence, supporting conditions, perceived cost and social media self-efficacy are also observed to be key predictors of social media adoption behaviours of health professionals and consumers.
    The above themes were cross-matched with the existing technology adoption theories to propose a novel theoretical framework called Healthcare Social Media Usage Model (HSMUM). The hypothesised relationships emerging from the framework were tested through quantitative methodology. In the quantitative phase, the research framework of the study has been empirically tested and validated from the perspective of both health professionals and consumers. Two separate cross-sectional surveys were conducted with 219 healthcare professionals and 265 consumers. The quantitative analysis was steered through the structural equation modelling technique grounded in the research framework. Both sets of empirical data supported the proposed model indicating a good fit.
    The outcome of this research provides important inputs into healthcare professionals, service providers, and consumers adoption of social media technologies within the healthcare system.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAbu Saleh (Supervisor), Ali Quazi (Supervisor) & Petra Bouvain (Supervisor)

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