Abstract: How Effective Are Social Media Tools for Health Behavior Change Interventions? (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

657 How Effective Are Social Media Tools for Health Behavior Change Interventions?

Friday, May 31, 2019
Marina Room (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Adriana Baban, PhD, Professor, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Diana Taut, PhD, Lecturer, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Sebastian Pintea, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Marcela Pența, PhD, Researcher, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Background: Social media tools (SMTs) are becoming a popular vehicle of health behaviour change interventions. Despite their rapid growth in notoriety, little is known about the effectiveness, mechanisms of actions and the pitfalls of using SMTs in such interventions. The current study aimed to conduct a meta-analysis with a systematic review, and pitted together RCTS of SMTs interventions on health behaviour change (physical activity, weight loss, smoking and alcohol intake), in the general population, alone or as part of larger interventions, in order to assess the magnitude of effects on: a) actual behaviour, b) participants‘ knowledge and skills, and c) participants' satisfaction with the intervention.

Methods: We investigated potential moderators of these effects, by taking into consideration the length of interventions, other programme components, the type of SMTs (commercial and non-commercial), the type of target behaviour, and the quality of the RCTs. We excluded correlation studies and research carried with children populations or those having medical conditions.

Findings: Our analyses on 34 studies showed that overall, the quality of RCTs was satisfactory, with some underpowered studies. The overall effect size on behavioral outcomes in lifestyle interventions was small, d= 0.195, CI95%= [0.110, 0.280] though significant (Z=4.49, p< 0.001). There were no differences in effectiveness between types of interventions using SMTs, such as for physical activity, weight loss, quitting smoking, or alcohol intake, Q(2)= 1.823, p= .402. Commercial SMTs, such as Facebook had medium to large effects in interventions, d= 0.410, CI95%= [0.198, 0.622], while non-commercial ones such as blogs, internet discussion forums or message boards had small to moderate effect sizes, d= 0.199, CI95%= [0.018, 0.381].

Discussion: Introducing SMTs in behavior change interventions is a promising approach. However, well conducted RCTs that incorporate SMTs in theory-driven, well designed and adequately powered interventions should be prioritized before integrating SMTs in actual health promotion interventions.