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Social Networks Improve Post-op Pain and Length of Stay

As many of my faithful readers know, Dr. Val is a big fan of Web 2.0 principles (blogging, online communities, wikis, forums, chats, podcasts, etc.) I’m even leading a weight loss group online, and there are almost 1400 members already. Although I’ve been trying hard to lead by example, I’ve had occasional hiccups in my own weight loss due to the sweet lure of fine dining. Could YOU resist silky, black sesame panna cotta with butter crunch tuile and spicy cranberry compote? Well maybe you could. For me, resistance is futile.

But I digress.

What I really wanted to point out (before my thoughts were derailed by deliciousness), is that research is now confirming what many of us bloggers have known instinctively: social networking can improve the health care experience. In the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, post operative pain and length of stay were reduced for those who had more social support. This means that the more frequent and broad your social contacts, the less likely you are to be bothered by pain, and the more likely you are to get out of the hospital faster. Let’s hear it for using CarePages, FaceBook, and other online support groups while in the hospital, and perhaps as outpatients as well.

And if feeling supported isn’t enough to get you on the right track, more research in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that mail reminders can improve post-heart attack medication compliance. Perhaps email reminders would work just as well (and kill fewer trees?) One thing is for sure – Health 2.0 tools can make an impact on peoples lives and I’m excited to be a part of that.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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4 Responses to “Social Networks Improve Post-op Pain and Length of Stay”

  1. tstitt says:

    The study also mentions “randomized controlled trial of massage as adjuvant treatment.” Could you explain “adjuvant” in this context? Are the conclusions about social network contact independent of the “controlled trial of massage” or was the massage part of the trial?

  2. asicre says:

    Health 3.0?  Health 2.0 has only had two conferences (one last week in San Diego), with another one planned for the fall!  I will have to check it out.

    With regard to health social networks (DailyStrength, Inspire, and PatientsLikeMe in particular), they are a great resource for people to share their pain and progress with others just like them.  Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, there is a group for you to discuss what you are going through.  I often share and ask questions on DailyStrength, as well as peruse Inspire and PatientLikeMe every once and again.
    With regards to reminders, my company, Intelecare Compliance Solutions, send over 5 million reminders a day – via email, text and voice messaging.  Our reminder platform is in use on our website,, as a free service with 3 million active users.  We also license our technology to third parties (such as social networks, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, employers) so that their websites can have a branded adherence solution for their members.
    And not only for daily medications, but prescription refills, doctor’s appointments, vital sign monitoring – you name it.  We have extended the length of therapy for certain drug classes, reduced switching costs, and helped people remain adherent to their medication regime, as 84% of those non-compliant simply forget!
    I look forward to reading more of your blogs.
  3. NB2 says:

    I think blogs, care pages and the likes are the greatest. My baby sister had A.M.L our family started a blog three years ago. We all wrote, family, friends, everyone. My sister did not make the “cut” but she was or is (not sure of the tense) a testament for living much longer then the doctors said. Everyone said it was because of the support she had, it was amazing, and it wasn’t until the last five days that her life was truly awful-until then while it wasn’t good, it was worth living.

    I made a comment earlier when you posted about running with and for your friend who has colon cancer. I could give an infomercial regarding support and friendship when you have a horrendous diagnosis. Hope, love, great doctors, can change the landscape.

    You have a great blog, and you must be a great M.D.

  4. DrDavid says:

    A lot of my patients find support on ACOR websites.  I take care of a lot of sarcoma patients.  Sarcomas are rare (so is childhood cancer), so most of them feel alone in the beginning, not knowing anyone else who has had a sarcoma (or a child with cancer).  Finding people online who share similar experiences is an immense help.

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