A review of 51 published articles that included research on the use of social media for sexual health education and promotion has shown that approximately 25% yielded “promising results,” and there is evidence that number continues to grow, according to a study published in Global Health Action. More than 2 billion people worldwide use some form of social media, the researchers said.1

Investigators from the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsø reviewed scientific and medical databases and grey literature to discover information on the use of social media for sexual health promotion.

“Because social media are popular and frequently used by many people of various ages worldwide, there is potential for the media to be used for health promotion, including for potentially sensitive and stigmatizing subjects such as those related to sexual health,” researchers explained.

Of the 9462 publications the researchers identified, 51 met the following criteria: the articles included empirical studies that reported results; social media was used in the research; and the studies were conducted in the English language. Four of the publications included randomized intervention studies, 39 involved nonrandomized interventions, and 8 discussed observational studies.


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Positive effects on behavior and a reduction in the number of sexually transmitted infections were seen, and there is increasing evidence for the value of social media for the promotion of sexual health and disease prevention.

Study limitations reported by researchers included the small number of studies that met the criteria, the possibility of missed publications during the search, and the varied quality of selected studies.

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Reference

  1. Gabarron E, Wynn R. Use of social media for sexual health promotion: a scoping reviewGlob Health Action. 2016;9:32193. doi: 10.3402/gha.v9.32193.