Background Regardless of whether we live with a rheumatic disease or not recommendations on physical activity and training apply to all of us. For a person with rheumatic disease easily accessible knowledge and how-to-do ideas on physical activity and training is central. It contributes not only to a reduction of current symptoms but it also contributes to a higher level of sustained health over time, both physically, psychologically and socially. In synergy with the development of IT and different social media, blogging has become a tool of communication also in the public sector. A blog often approaches its reader in a readily accessible way, with updated information and often with a personal tone. By using a blog large groups of people can be reached in a cost effective way.
Objectives To use a blog as a tool to support and encourage individuals with rheumatic disease in both their understanding of and their performance of physical activity and training.
Methods Plan, do, study, act (PDSA) which is a method for systematic improvement of processes was applied.
Plan: The Swedish Rheumatism Association's training blog (SRA-tb) was initially set up as a project in 2011. The reader was invited to follow a person with rheumatic disease as she prepared for, performed and evaluated two challenges. The challenges were a cross-country ski race (30k) and a run (5k). The emphasis was placed on the perceived health in relation to disease activity rather than the results in the races. Foremost, symptoms and effects of training in relation to the disease became the focus. A physiotherapist with special competence in rheumatology was appointed editor of the blog.
Do: During 2011, 135 posts were made on the SRA-tb. Several of the published posts contained practical information such as examples of exercises, suggestions for self-help but also articles on the latest research on physical activity and training for people with rheumatic disease were also published.
Results Study: In 2011 the project resulted in a total of 17351 viewings. The statistics showed that the postings that contained practical advice or was of a more instructing character (i.e. training programs) rendered most viewings. Moreover, the search terms that were used by the readers were monitored. The tool for the blog also allowed for the readers to comment or ask questions, which opened up for dialog and interaction.
Conclusions Act: Since the start of the SRA-tb over 850 posts have been made and the blog has become a part of the Swedish Rheumatism Association's communication strategy. During 2015 the blog had 41497 viewings and 198 posts were published. The increase in viewings in relation to the number of posts can be explained by a systematic review and analysis of which topics and search terms that renders most interest. Also, the blog is now often linked to other social media published by the Swedish Rheumatism Association, mainly Facebook.
The Swedish Rheumatism Association is currently facing the challenge to use social media in a more efficient way. As a part of meeting that challenge the Swedish Rheumatism Association is building a digital health platform with the ambition that this will become a knowledge base for life style questions related to rheumatic disease and rheumatology. The blog about training will become a part of this knowledgebase. Our goal is that the digital health platform will help empower our members to influence the course of their disease and to live a healthier life.
Disclosure of Interest None declared