People with rheumatic diseases and other disabilities need different arenas where they can put their disease on the agenda in order to empower themselves. Finding these arenas can be challenging when you are fighting your own disease at the same time.
Since the real breakthrough in social media (from around 2006) I have been working with different groups of people with disabilities and on the area of social media as effective communication channels in general and have both studied and helped progressing the use of social media in order to gain patient empowerment.
Results Social media is easy approachable for all people, it is free and training or physical present is not needed in order to start using it. The nature of social media raises all voices and makes them more equal. Because of this patients with different disabilities have embraced social media channels as tools to get in touch with others, patients in same situation as well as politicians, researchers etc. They use channels like blogs, Twitter, Facebook and forums to both give and gain information in order to empower themselves.
Impliactions Because of the use of social media we have seen a stronger voice from patients over the last years. They have the possibility to speak directly to politicians without having to go through official channels and they use the possibility to empower themselves as well as a whole group of patients. The awareness especially about invisible diseases is raised thanks to the use of social media.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared