Introduction Research in palliative care faces many ethical and practical challenges which call for the exploration of new methodologies to help overcome these barriers. With an awareness of how the internet has revolutionised the world, social media techniques are a feasible option as they have been successfully implemented and used in other research disciplines.
Aim(s) and method(s) This paper discusses various ways that social media can be adopted in palliative care research and the methodological implications of their use. Two case studies based on our experience of using social media in research will be presented.
Results Both quantitative and qualitative research can use the internet as an additional modality that complements research objectives. Within the two case studies social media was successfully used to facilitate patient identification and access hard to reach participants improving recruitment and attrition rates; afforded the possibility of innovative data collection methods that consider issues such as low tolerance for burden with palliative care patients, thus enriching the data. Data analysis and dissemination were improved with the possibility of informing the general public thus promoting palliative care as a public health issue.
Conclusion(s) Based on our experience, recommendations are given for those planning to use social media for research in palliative care. Techniques for improving patient recruitment and quality data collection are suggested, stressing the need to use these methods appropriately and not simple as a replacement of traditional approaches. Timeframe processes of online methods vary and the objectives of the study should be considered to ensure that relevant data are collected.
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