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Prev Chronic Dis. 2015 Jan 29;12:E11. doi: 10.5888/pcd12.140265.

Social media in communicating health information: an analysis of Facebook groups related to hypertension.

Author information

Department of Public Health, General Directorate of Health Affairs in Tabuk Region, Ministry of Health, P.O. Box 16673, Tabuk-71474, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. E-mail:
Department of Public Health, General Directorate of Health Affairs in Tabuk Region, Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Department of Family Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



We studied Facebook groups related to hypertension to characterize their objectives, subject matter, member sizes, geographical boundaries, level of activity, and user-generated content.


We performed a systematic search among open Facebook groups using the keywords "hypertension," "high blood pressure," "raised blood pressure," and "blood pressure." We extracted relevant data from each group's content and developed a coding and categorizing scheme for the whole data set. Stepwise logistic regression was used to explore factors independently associated with each group's level of activity.


We found 187 hypertension-related Facebook groups containing 8,966 members. The main objective of most (59.9%) Facebook groups was to create hypertension awareness, and 11.2% were created primarily to support patients and caregivers. Among the top-displayed, most recent posts (n = 164), 21.3% were focused on product or service promotion, whereas one-fifth of posts were related to hypertension-awareness information. Each Facebook group's level of activity was independently associated with group size (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-1.03), presence of "likes" on the most recent wall post (AOR, 3.55, 95% CI, 1.41-8.92), and presence of attached files on the group wall (AOR, 5.01, 95% CI, 1.25-20.1).


The primary objective of most of the hypertension-related Facebook groups observed in this study was awareness creation. Compared with the whole Facebook community, the total number of hypertension-related Facebook groups and their users was small and the groups were less active.

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