Introduction

Harnessing the Social Web - Communities for Health and Wellness

A Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Exploratory Workshop

Social media are powerful tools to bring together community members who share common interests and goals. Online virtual communities formed through social media to support health and wellness can be beneficial to patients, caregivers, and health professionals; however, the power of such groups may be harmful if inaccurate or misleading health information is disseminated. Studying the dynamics of online communities for health and wellness promotion is both important and timely.

This two and a half day workshop invites multi-disciplinary experts, including researchers from a wide range of disciplines at UBC, graduate students, and distinguished international experts, to explore the various dynamics at play that contribute to an online community’s success or failure. The exploration will address the management of information, as well as social support, decision-making, and action related to individual and community wellness goals. This interdisciplinary exploration will focus on six research themes:

  1. Individual information acquisition and application
  2. Community genesis and sustainability
  3. Technological design issues
  4. Stakeholders' mutual influence towards wellness
  5. Knowledge management, dissemination, and renewal
  6. Research designs to address these themes


The outcomes of the workshop will include 6 papers that address the above themes. Another outcome will be the identification of interdisciplinary groups who will work together to develop a joint research proposal to advance the science and understanding of this topic to uncover the most beneficial ways of using social media to promote healthy living.

"Harnessing the Social Web - Communities for Health and Wellness " is an Exploratory Workshop supported by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies awarded to Kendall Ho, Director, eHealth Strategy Office, and Professor, Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. The workshop will be held at St. John's College, University of British Columbia, 2111 Lower Mall, Vancouver on February 3 - 5, 2013.