social-ABI-lity - using an online training program and a private Facebook group for social media communication practice and peer support after brain injury

Melissa (Liss) Brunner, Rachael Ritdijk, Kylie Southwell, Kayla Summers, Petra Avramovic, Melissa Miao, Emma Power, Nick Rushworth, Leanne Togher

Background: Social media may offer an important way for people with an acquired brain injury (ABI) to connect meaningfully with others. However, people with an ABI can find it challenging to use social media due to changes in their cognition and communication skills, and rehabilitation clinicians can be concerned about the risks associated with social media use. Furthermore, clinicians have limited resources available to target social media use during rehabilitation.

Aims: To investigate the outcomes of a multicomponent social media communication skills intervention.

Methods: A mixed-methods, pre-post intervention design was used. Participants completed a short, self-guided course about social media skills (social-ABI-lity program), and then participated in a private, moderated Facebook group over a 12-week period (social-ABI-lity Facebook group). Data were collected on social media use and quality of life and participants provided feedback on their experiences via a post-intervention interview. Statistical analysis compared pre-intervention and post-intervention measures and qualitative content analysis was conducted on post-intervention interview data.

Results: 16 participants completed the 12-week intervention. At post-intervention, there were significant improvements in confidence in using Facebook (p = .002) and enjoyment of using Facebook to connect with others (p = .013). Although there was no significant change in reported quality of life, participants reported multiple benefits from the intervention.

Conclusions: This pilot study provided preliminary evidence that this intervention improved outcomes for people with ABI and will inform future intervention development and research to assist people with ABI to build their social media skills for communication and social participation.