An Affordance Perspective on the Enabling and Disruptive Effects of Social Media Tools on Self-Management of Chronic Illness

An Affordance Perspective on the Enabling and Disruptive Effects of Social Media Tools on Self-Management of Chronic Illness

Nwakego Isika (The University of Melbourne, Australia), Antonette Mendoza (The University of Melbourne, Australia) and Rachelle Bosua (Open University of the Netherlands, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3274-4.ch003

Abstract

This chapter examines the appropriation of social media tools by chronically ill adults to better understand and manage their illness using an affordance perspective. Despite the continued attention that information systems scholars have directed to studies on affordances and social media, there seems to be limited discussion on the negative, disruptive effects that social media could have on accomplishment of illness management goals. Accordingly, the authors argue that social media affordances could have both positive, enabling effects on illness management outcomes or negative, disruptive effects.
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Introduction

Social media technologies have had a considerable impact on society acting as platforms for activism; support for new business models and, to organize people around common causes such as health (McKenna et al. 2017; Rozenblum and Bates 2013; Urquhart and Vaast 2012). Accordingly, today a growing number of chronically ill adults make use of social media technologies to better understand and manage their illness. Digital technologies such as social media and other technological innovations could assist the healthcare sector by empowering people to take control of their illnesses. It is suggested that the use of digital tools such as social media may lead to decreased costs and administrative effort for care delivery, increasing practice efficiency and supporting patient self-management (Agarwal et al. 2010).

It appears that prior studies conducted on social media use for health are focused on motivation mechanisms, i.e. influences on health-related outcomes in these settings and have overlooked the processes of appropriation of Social Media Tools (SMT) within the public context to manage one’s health and wellbeing (Agarwal et al. 2010; Fichman et al. 2011; Merolli et al. 2013). To this effect, there has been limited empirical investigation into how SMTs are utilized by these individuals to better understand and manage their chronic illness. Hence, it is necessary to further explore how social media tools are used to gain a more in-depth insight into potential benefits or drawbacks of these tools in the context of chronic illness self-management.

Affordance theory was proposed in the field of ecological psychology to address the “action possibilities” offered to an animal by its environment (Fayard and Weeks 2014; Gibson 1986). This seminal theory has been adopted in several fields including Information Systems (IS) to understand the relationship between an IT artefact and its users within a specified use context (Anderson and Robey 2017; Orlikowski et al. 2006).

Accordingly, the purpose of this chapter is to examine the affordances of social media which enable or deter illness management for chronically ill adults. Consequently, the guiding research question is: How do social media technology features enable or disrupt chronic illness management practices of chronically ill adults?

To address the research question, the authors conducted a multiple case study to analyse enabling and disruptive affordances of four different SMTs having a range of features. This study presented in this chapter forms part of a larger research project that investigates the appropriation of social media tools by adults with chronic illness. The larger study applied a multiple case study with mixed methods and also examines influences and processes of appropriation across the selected SMT tools: Reddit (text-based), Instagram (Photo-based/hybrid), Youtube (video-based/hybrid) and Facebook (hybrid).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Affordances/Constraints: The concept of affordances was posited by Giddens (1976) AU221: The in-text citation "Giddens (1976)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. in the perceptual psychology field, in his seminal work on how an organism adapts to and understands their environment in terms of form, function and perceptions of goal-oriented actions. In information systems, this theory has been adapted to conceptualize the action potential the features of a technology offer to a user to enable (afford) or disrupt (constrain) achievement of their goals.

Online Communities/Online Social Networks: The terms online communities and online social networks are used interchangeably in the literature to refer to digitally-enabled virtual communities comprised of individuals connecting for a common cause or sharing the same practices.

Social media: Synonymous with the term Web 2.0, social media are commonly defined as a set of internet-based, interactive computer-mediated technologies or tools that facilitate the creation and exchange of user-generated content (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010 AU235: The in-text citation "Kaplan and Haenlein 2010" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Kietzmann et al. 2011 AU236: The in-text citation "Kietzmann et al. 2011" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Ngai et al. 2015 AU237: The citation "Ngai et al. 2015" matches multiple references. Please add letters (e.g. "Smith 2000a"), or additional authors to the citation, to uniquely match references and citations. ). This term comprises several types of technologies ranging from bookmarking sites such as digg.com to rich media sites such as SecondLife which offer a fully immersive virtual experience to users.

Self-Management/Illness Management: Self-management is a daily, dynamic, interactive practice carried out with the involvement of family, friends, healthcare professionals and other concerned members of the community. Self-management addresses a patient-centred care approach that shares responsibility for ongoing management of chronic conditions with the ill individual (Bodenheimer 2002 AU231: The in-text citation "Bodenheimer 2002" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Dadgar and Joshi 2018 AU232: The in-text citation "Dadgar and Joshi 2018" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Greenhalgh 2009 AU233: The in-text citation "Greenhalgh 2009" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Househ et al. 2014 AU234: The in-text citation "Househ et al. 2014" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Chronic Diseases/Illness: Chronic illness refers to health conditions that last longer than three months in duration and these often persist for an entire lifetime (Dadgar and Joshi 2018 AU223: The in-text citation "Dadgar and Joshi 2018" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Department of Health 2012 ; Romanow et al. 2012 ). According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic diseases are the leading cause of mortality worldwide. WHO estimates that by 2020 the deaths resulting from chronic illness will account for 73% of all deaths in developed nations and 79% of all deaths for developing nations (Department of Health & Human Services 2016 AU224: The in-text citation "Department of Health & Human Services 2016" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; WHO 2016 ).

Adoption: Adoption refers to a user’s decision to either accept or reject a given technology; adoption studies have two dominant perspectives: either from the perspective of acceptance in a generalized sense or from the perspective of acceptance and integration into a technology use context.

Appropriation: The word appropriation derives from the Latin word ‘ appropriare’ or ‘ appropriationem’ and is defined in Meriam Webster’s dictionary as “setting apart or taking for one’s use”. It is also defined as “making something one’s own”. Appropriation has also been defined as the processes or adjustments that occur between system adoption and adaptation over time (Mendoza et al., 2010 AU222: The in-text citation "Mendoza et al., 2010" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

IT artefact: The application of technology to enable some tasks within a context/structure (Benbasat and Zmud 2003 AU225: The in-text citation "Benbasat and Zmud 2003" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). Some studies have defined IT artefacts as configurations or bundles of hardware and software features that constitute an information technology (Orlikowski and Iacono 2001 AU226: The in-text citation "Orlikowski and Iacono 2001" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

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