Using Facebook to Change Behaviour

We all know that Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have the potential to be used and abused when it comes to health.  We’ve seen the reporting of teenage parties that have gone off the rails once advertised on Facebook, and how user generated content about alcohol is probably more worrying than how alcohol companies themselves are using the platform.

On the flip side social movements, campaigning and fundraising have been transformed by the growth of these sites.

But I don’t think I’ve seen anything which looks at how Facebook can be used to improve health behaviours until now.  This paper which looks at whether sexual health prevention messages delivered via Facebook can preventing increases in sexual risk behaviour at 2 and 6 months changes that.

As you’ll see the measure of success was around the use of condoms and they report:

Time by treatment effects were observed at 2 months for condom use (intervention 68% vs control 56%, =0.04) and proportion of sex acts protected by condoms (intervention 63% vs control 57%, =0.03) where intervention participation reduced the tendency for condom use to decrease over time.

What they weren’t able to show was that the effects lasted as long as 6 months.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that if you can get the messages right and get an audience for them that this offers a low cost way of delivering effective prevention messages.

Something to think about as we explore what the Prevention Hub might be?

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