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Am J Med Genet A. 2015 Nov;167A(11):2629-34. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.37255. Epub 2015 Aug 14.

Marfan syndrome patient experiences as ascertained through postings on social media sites.

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University of Wisconsin- Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.
Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, Washington.
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


Marfan syndrome (MS) is a connective tissue disorder that affects thousands of adolescents [Population Reference Bureau, 2013]. Some adolescent patients with MS may use social media to express their experiences and emotions, but little is known about what patients choose to share online. To investigate social media content related to Marfan syndrome we used search terms "Marfan syndrome" and "Marfans" on six different social media sites. The top five recent and popular posts for each site were collected and coded weekly for five weeks. Posts were excluded if they were reshared content or not in English. A codebook was developed using an iterative process to categorize posts and comments. Out of 300 posts collected 147 posts (49.0%) were included for evaluation. Categories of displayed content included personal pictures, memes and pictures featuring symptoms of MS (41.5%) and personal MS experiences (27.1% of posts). One quarter of the posts specifically mentioned a positive experience or how thankful the profile owner was for their life. A unique category of posts (13.7%) referenced Austin Carlile, a celebrity singer with MS, as a role model. Physicians and healthcare providers may consider using social media to understand common MS concerns and to place future health education materials.


Marfan syndrome; adolescent health; connective tissue disorder; internet; social media

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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