Within groups that are starting a healthy lifestyle intervention together, there is potential for social e-support, as an addition to individual coaching. However, the support technology should be low-tech, low- threshold and preferably already omnipresent. A WhatsApp group was chosen as support tool, given the large variety of groups normally coached: from elderly, IT-phobic diabetics to highly educated young professionals. In this explorative pilot study, 11 young professionals volunteered. Despite their time-constrained schedules, 81 user inputs were generated in the first weeks, and the users valued the WhatsApp group as an attractive social support addition to the existing eTools and personal coaching which have a more functional focus on individual progress. Based on preliminary results: a) the WhatsApp group generated higher participation than most other social media, b) deploying social media use motives, c) possibly due to the relatively high ‘presence’ and ‘engagement’ attributes of WhatsApp, and d) contributing to healthy behaviours and health advocacy.
Simons, Luuk P.A.; van den Heuvel, Wouter A.C.; and Jonker, Catholijn M., "eHealth WhatsApp Group for Social Support: Preliminary Results" (2018). BLED 2018 Proceedings. 28.