Social networking for adolescents with severe haemophilia


Kate Khair, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, Haemophilia Centre, London WC1N 3JH, UK.
Tel.: +44 20 7829 8846; fax: +44 20 7829 8872;


Summary.  Access to modern treatments allows adolescents with haemophilia to manage their haemophilia at home, with improved treatment outcomes and quality of life, but has reduced peer support and the potential for experiential learning from older peers. Social networking, aided by modern communication technologies, may offer health benefits through peer support. We sought to assess whether or not disease-specific social networking could benefit adolescents with severe haemophilia. A total of 150 adolescents (aged 10–18) with severe haemophilia A or B from 11 UK treatment centres or those who had attended focus groups to explore the potential for a social network designed specifically for their use were surveyed. Teenage boys with severe haemophilia in the UK who responded to an online and paper questionnaire (n = 47; 31% response rate) rarely knew of or socialized with others with haemophilia outside their families. Two-thirds of respondents said they would like to meet others. For 70% of boys, parents were the major source of information about haemophilia, yet more than half said they often had trouble finding answers to their questions. These boys frequently used online social networks to chat with friends. Adolescents with severe haemophilia frequently have limited contact with others and many wish to have greater contact. They may benefit from peer support and experiential learning gained through online social networking. The SixVibe restricted access social network is to be launched in 2011. It includes features designed to promote and facilitate the development of peer-to peer disease management skills for adolescents with severe haemophilia.