Health promotion: Just a click away!
I am Olukemi Obajimi, a practicum student with Engage Africa Foundation. I am a part time Masters of Public Health student at the University of Waterloo, hoping to complete my program this year.
My goal for my practicum at Engage Africa Foundation is to prepare a report on the best practices for social marketing for health promotion. This project would require me finding the best available evidence in literature on social marketing for health promotion and disease prevention. The span of this project is January – April 2019.
As I continue with my project, I will be posting interesting finds from my research on the blog. This is a great opportunity I look forward to, so please stay tuned!
The new millennia is flooded with advances in social media and everyone is using some form of technology device every day. Hand held devices are the most popular and it is common that most people have at least a mobile device which could be a smart phone, tablet, IPod, or laptop. It is amazing how much communication can be achieved through these devices by texting, blogging, tweeting, chatting or polling through social media forums like Facebook, twitter, Instagram, emails and the list goes on. It is good to know that the health sector has benefited from the advancements in technology. It is very evident today that technology and social media have been integrated into health particularly health promotion.
I have discovered there are approximately 2 billion internet users on social media networks! Facebook, YouTube, WhatApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Instagram are the most popular social media platforms globally and some Instagram accounts have up to 140 million followers. Looking at the chart below tells me that social media is a very popular medium for interaction and communication.
Social media platforms such as Instagram, twitter and Facebook are now forums where people communicate health and health-related information. They are recognised as important channels for reaching a large audience in areas of public health promotion and patient advocacy. Majority of the messages on social media platforms such as Twitter are publicly available and this has helped health care agencies and public health organizations such as National Cancer Institute in the United states use them for health promotion (Xu et.al, 2016). It is interesting to note that some local health departments in the United States now use Twitter to educate and inform their constituents about diabetes (Harris et.al, 2013). Health education series on cancer prevention and related information for various audiences are also being delivered through social media (Alexander et.al, 2013).
People discuss personal health experiences and promote screening on platforms such as Twitter. Pap smear and mammogram messages have been coded from twitter accounts (Lyles et.al, 2013). WhatsApp messaging applications have also shown promising results in neonatal mortality reduction in Yaounde Cameroon (Amani et.al, 2017). TweetChat groups are now being recognised as tools to promote behaviour change, a tweetchat discussion involving stakeholders was used by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Let’s Go program in the United States to promote change on childhood obesity (Chats on change, 2013).
It is amazing that social media have become a wonder in this age and health promotion can be just a click away through those devices you have in your hands! Why not use them?
- Lyles, C. R., López, A., Pasick, R., & Sarkar, U. (2013). “5 mins of uncomfyness is better than dealing with cancer 4 a lifetime”: an exploratory qualitative analysis of cervical and breast cancer screening dialogue on Twitter. Journal of Cancer Education, 28(1), 127-133.
- Xu, S., Markson, C., Costello, K. L., Xing, C. Y., Demissie, K., & Llanos, A. A. (2016). Leveraging Social Media to Promote Public Health Knowledge: Example of Cancer Awareness via Twitter. JMIR public health and surveillance, 2(1), e17. doi:10.2196/publichealth.5205
- Alexander, J., Kwon, H. T., Strecher, R., & Bartholomew, J. (2013). Multicultural media outreach: increasing cancer information coverage in minority communities. Journal of Cancer Education, 28(4), 744-747.
- Harris, J. K., Mueller, N. L., Snider, D., & Haire-Joshu, D. (2013). Peer reviewed: Local health department use of Twitter to disseminate diabetes information, United States. Preventing chronic disease, 10
- Amani, A., Nansseu, J. R., Mah, E. M., Vougmo, C. M., Moluh, S. M., & Mbu, R. (2017). Use of a social media network to reduce early neonatal mortality: a preliminary report from a quality improvement project in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Maternal health, neonatology and perinatology, 3(1), 26.
- Chats on change. (2013). https://innovations.ahrq.gov/events/2013/09/chats-change-using-social-media-reduce-childhood-obesity.