A preliminary study investigating the use of rabbit-related Facebook groups in relation to rabbit health information
James A Oxley
Background:There has been a dramatic increase in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook over the last decade. However, limited research has been conducted focusing on pet owners' use of these sites for pet health information.Aim:The aim of this study was to gather, via an online anonymous survey, information from rabbit owners about their use of rabbit-related Facebook groups and determine if and how these group pages are used for rabbit health information.Methods:Responses from 304 UK rabbit owners who were members of at least one rabbit-related Facebook groups were received and analysed.Results:The majority of participants were a member of more than one rabbit-related Facebook group. The most common reasons for joining such groups were to ‘to keep up to date about rabbit-related information’ (84.9%), ‘to learn more about rabbits’ (78.0%) and ‘to discuss topics about rabbits with like-minded people’ (71.1%). Just over half of respondents (52.3%) joined rabbit-related Facebook groups to ‘seek advice about the health of my rabbits’. Nearly half of owners (41.3%) deemed Facebook groups as a trustworthy source of rabbit health information. The most common health issue Facebook group users asked about was gastrointestinal related.Conclusions:Results of this study highlight the importance of veterinarians and veterinary staff engaging with social media pet health groups to facilitate owners sourcing accurate and reliable online pet health information and seeking timely veterinary treatment.
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