According to the latest Pew research, nearly three-quarters of U.S. Internet users are looking for health information online, and social media usage continues to grow, with 67 percent of Internet users now on Facebook. Can social media be used for health promotion and education that will make a positive difference in people’s lives? On the third day of National Public Health Week, we highlight articles by health promotion and social marketing experts that identify the challenges and possibilities for social media to help advance public health:
Holly Korda and Zena Itani, both of the Altarum Institute, published “Harnessing Social Media for Health Promotion and Behavior Change” in the Health Promotion Practice January 2013 issue. The authors wrote:
Rapid and innovative advances in participative Internet communications, referred to as “social media,” offer opportunities for modifying health behavior. Social media let users choose to be either anonymous or identified. People of all demographics are adopting these technologies whether on their computers or through mobile devices, and they are increasingly using these social media for health-related issues. Although social media have considerable potential as tools for health promotion and education, these media, like traditional health promotion media, require careful application and may not always achieve their desired outcomes. This article summarizes current evidence and understanding of using social media for health promotion. More important, it discusses the need for evaluating the effectiveness of various forms of social media and incorporating outcomes research and theory in the design of health promotion programs for social media.
Click here to continue reading “Harnessing Social Media for Health Promotion and Behavior Change” in Health Promotion Practice.
Paige Woolley and Michael Peterson, both of the University of Delaware, published “Efficacy of a Health-Related Facebook Social Network Site on Health-Seeking Behaviors” in the Social Marketing Quarterly March 2012 issue. The authors wrote:
The current study was designed to determine the impact of a health-related Facebook fan page on health-seeking actions, thoughts, and behaviors. Ninety Get Up and Do Something (GUADS) fans who were 18 years and older completed an online questionnaire about their perceptions, use, and reaction to a Facebook page. Results revealed the GUADS Facebook page prompts healthseeking actions by motivating fans to search for more health information online. The page positively influences health-related thoughts and behaviors by motivating and reminding fans to engage in healthy behaviors. Frequency of seeing, clicking, and reading GUADS posts was significantly related to health information seeking and health-related thoughts and behaviors. Results suggest that Facebook may be an effective medium to help individuals maintain and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
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