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LK 120
Leveraging social media for adolescent and young adult healthcare: A systematic review of the literature
LK 120
Leveraging social media for adolescent and young adult healthcare: A systematic review of the literature
Partners Healthcare Center for Connected Health, Harvard Medical School,
BackgroundMany of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality in the US adolescent and young adult (AYA) population are associated with health-risk behaviors and poorly controlled chronic medical... Read more

Description

Background

Many of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality in the US adolescent and young adult (AYA) population are associated with health-risk behaviors and poorly controlled chronic medical conditions, but the means of reaching and engaging AYAs to improve their health and development remains a challenging task. Social media has emerged as a potentially powerful medium for health communication practice in AYAs; a population that is by far the most well represented online and often the earliest adopters of emerging technologies. The aim of our study was to review the current published literature for health-related research involving AYAs that leverage social media, and provide guidance on the use of social media for clinical research and health care delivery to this unique population.

Methods

A PubMed Central electronic database search was performed for papers published between January 2002 and October 2013 to identify peer-reviewed research in which social media and other Web 2.0 technologies was an important feature. We used a systematic approach to retrieve papers and extract relevant data.

Results

We identified 285 studies that leveraged some form of social media for health-related research, of which 84 met our inclusion criteria. 73 studies were observational in nature and 11 were interventional; common types of social media platforms used included Facebook (n=31), MySpace (n=6), and YouTube (n=2). The following are primary ways in which social media was used: conducting questionnaires or interviews with AYAs to understand habits around social media use (n=44), observing AYAs’ health behaviors through content analysis of their social media accounts (n=25), gauging AYAs’ reactions to health-relevant content displayed on social media platforms (n=6), providing health information to AYAs (n=12), engaging AYAs through the creation of an online peer community (n=10), facilitating communication between AYAs and health care providers (n=6), and recruitment of AYAs for research studies (n=22). Common health issues and risk behaviors addressed in studies we reviewed pertained to sexual health (n=22), alcohol, tobacco and other drug use (n=19), mental health (n=18), Internet safety (n=8), and other health issues or conditions (n=20). Several studies used more than one type of social media and addressed more than one health topic.

Conclusions

Social media offers an exciting new medium that can be leveraged to communicate with AYAs about key health issues and risk behaviors that affect their well-being and development. By its intended purpose, social media requires users to actively generate and share content; understanding how to exploit the influence of online social networks to normalize positive health behaviors and deliver timely education and support is key to improving health care delivery to the AYA population. To date, the majority of studies within this field have been preliminary and limited in their methodologies, and mostly center around evaluating how AYAs use social media and its implications for their health. Although these explorations are essential to building effective interventions, we hope that future investigations will leverage the ever-evolving ways that AYAs use social media to facilitate health behavior change and engage them in their own care.

Shiyi is a connected health protégée and contributor to the ongoing research & innovation process at the Partners HealthCare Center for Connected Health < http://www.connected-health.org>. As a research analyst, her role ranges from conceptualizing and operationalizing clinical research protocols to evaluating findings and learning how to more effectively disseminate these findings. She is also an experienced grant writer and manages her team’s large-scale foundation grants portfolio.
Most recently, Shiyi has presented her research at the Health Forum / AHA Leadership Summit, and her work has been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research as well as a HIMSS Media publication.
The patient experience is central to Shiyi’s work at the Center and beyond. As an advocate for families of children born with craniofacial differences through the Foundation for Faces of Children, Shiyi has applied lessons learned from her and her families’ journey in navigating care within 3 distinctive health care systems to help raise awareness around the need for payment reform and more family-centered care at the local and state level. It was this along with the experience of moderating a Facebook group full of teen asthmatics that inspired Shiyi’s current research interest in the use of social media for health care delivery to the adolescent and young adult population.
Shiyi can often be found bike commuting through the city streets in and around Boston, MA. In her spare time, she enjoys hacking recipes to merge the various ethnic food influences from her childhood, keeping up with her ultra-tech-savvy father and not-so-tech-savvy mother, and getting lost on long runs in new places. You can follow her adventures on Twitter at: @shiyizan

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