PROJECT OF MERIT
Luke Nguyen, Collin Mullis, Bailey Rydzewski, Julie Williams Merten, PhD.
Dr. Julie Merten | Brooks College of Health | Department of Public Health
Background: While widely-used by clinicians, self-care has recently emerged as a trending term in mainstream and social media. Informal health and support communities have formed on social media sites such as Instagram, which hosts more than one billion monthly users and ranks as the second most popular social networking application in the United States.
Purpose: This study investigated how the term self-care is portrayed on Instagram. In particular, the researchers examined how self-care was depicted across the six dimensions of wellness and four established self-care themes including illness prevention, management of chronic illness, promotion of optimal health, and early detection of symptoms.
Methods: Using search term #selfcare, researchers sampled the top 250 Instagram posts on February 2nd, 2020. A codebook was developed, pilot tested, and used to code pins.
Results: Preliminary analysis of #selfcare posts (n=75) revealed that 71% of posts targeted a female audience with nearly half (48%) of the posts including explicit health wellness themes. The most common dimensions of wellness were mental or emotional health (32%) and physical health (19%).
Conclusions: The emergence of public self care dialogue is reflected in patterns of social media use, particularly on Instagram where #selfcare has amassed more than 24 million posts. Images from Instagram may help in understanding public use of the term self care, and should be included in the discussion of health promotion through social media.