Using Social Media for Patient Advocacy and Learning: A conversation with Rebecca Hogue

I spent some time speaking with Rebecca Hogue @rjhogue this morning about the e-patient advocacy work she does on her blog

Rebecca is a Doctoral Student at the University of Ottawa and her dissertation will document and analyze the impact of her blog on readers. It’s important, inspiring work that sits at the intersections of several areas of study including, but probably not limited to, literacy, technology, health, community, culture, relationships, learning. And so, I asked Rebecca if she might have 30 minutes or so to share some of her thoughts about the role of social media to support learning for students in my #EDU5287 Class called Emerging Technologies and Learning. 

Interestingly, several students in my class are health care professionals themselves. I hope the conversation is especially supportive of their learning. I hope it helps to expand conceptions of social media and the ways that they might leverage patient blogs to teach, and to inform their clinical practices.

Key points from Rebecca’s talk include:

  • Patient blogs can give clinical professionals access to the ways that patients think about their disease. Rebecca described the example of one physician who reads patient blogs to gain access to the ways that non-specialists describe what is happening to their bodies, or in their bodies. This has helped the physician to understand and interpret patients’ words and, importantly, to diagnose patients.
  • Access to other patients’ treatment plans has empowered Rebecca to attend medical team meetings with a conversation starter. She values the special disciplinary knowledge that her medical care team brings to the conversations, of course, but she has found it helpful to present information informed, in part, by others’ experiences so that she feels all possibilities are explored before decisions are taken for her particular treatment plan.
  • Rebecca offered many insights about how to use social media to tell her story without revealing information that is too sensitive, or might give any insight into the identities of her physicians. This is an important one for all educators to think about. Rebecca has a website called  for anyone considering blogging their lived experiences with Cancer. It is of value to anyone starting a blog, in my view. The issues she explores on the site are germane to K-12 teachers, counselors, and health care professionals too.
  • Evidence of impact in Rebecca’s work often comes in the form of comments that people share. “You helped me to understand my sister’s experiences” or even just “thank you” give Rebecca some perspective on how her social media work is supporting her readers.

Here’s the conversation. Students in #EDU5287 will see this in Module 5 that focuses on uses of social media to support learning. Rebecca summarized the talk at her blog too.

For friends in the digital literacies community, what questions does Rebecca’s work raise for you?



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