Friday, 31 January 2014

What are the most persuasive types of blogs to recommend to your patients?

Say you were seeing a person newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. You wanted, among other things, to recommend some blogs written by other people with diabetes. What factors would help you decide which types of blogs to recommend?

Sock or money?
A team of researchers from Northwestern University set out to try and explore this challenge with 150 undergraduates, careful classification of likes / dislikes and a target behaviour of taking up or increasing running. In lab-based experimental conditions they looked at two styles of blog - narrative (story telling) and non-narrative (didactic). They also classified by 'source similarity' - non-health-related similarity (i.e. similar laptop makes) and health-related similarity (similar health-related behaviours).
"The source similarity effect was stronger in nonnarrative than narrative blogs. When the blogs were nonnarrative, those with health-related similarities were more persuasive than those with non-health-related similarities. Narrative blogs generated more positive thoughts and stronger blogger identification than nonnarrative blogs." (1)
From this basic research - which should be studied in the real world of chronic disease - it appears that recommending a patient blog that is narrative or one that is non-narrative but written by a patient with very similar health issues may be the most persuasive for behaviour change.

1) Lu AS. An Experimental Test of the Persuasive Effect of Source Similarity in Narrative and Nonnarrative Health Blogs. J Med Internet Res. 2013 Jul 25 [cited 2014 Jan 31];15(7). Available from:

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