Clinical Determinants of Social Media Use in Individuals with Schizophrenia

This study aimed to examine the prevalence of social media use and its association with symptoms in individuals with schizophrenia. 265 individuals with schizophrenia were assessed.

Symptoms were assessed on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Clinical Assessment Interview for Negative Symptoms (CAINS). Information on social media use was collected. Logistic regressions were used to explore the association between social media use and socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of the participants. Of the 265 study participants, 139 (52.5%) used social media in the last week. Fifty-six (21.1%) of the study participants used more than one social media site in the last week. Facebook was the most popular social media site. Age, highest education level, monthly household income, PANSS negative and depression factor scores were significantly associated with social media use. Amongst negative symptoms, the CAINS motivation-pleasure (MAP) social factor scores were found to be significantly associated with social media use. Our study results suggested that the assessment of social interactions via social media should be considered in the clinical assessment of individuals with schizophrenia.

Secondly, our results suggested that the development of treatment programs supported by social media platforms may be useful for certain groups of individuals with schizophrenia. Younger patients with above secondary level education, higher family income and lower symptom severity are likely to be avid users of social media and would be suitable candidates to receive illness related information or clinical interventions via social media.