244308 Using Social Media to Inform Public Health Promotion & Practice: An Assessment of Novel Applications for Exploring User-Generated Content

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:50 AM

Leslie Erdelack, MPH , Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Arlington, VA
Issue: Adolescents are acutely receptive to wireless technologies and can be a challenging population to engage with conventional approaches to health promotion. The purpose of this study is to provide an introductory framework for understanding how user-generated social media content can be used to inform strategies for promoting adolescent health and wellness. One immediate public health priority that is well-positioned to benefit from the strengths and capital of social media is teen pregnancy prevention.

Description: Analyzing user-generated text is a potential strategy for determining how people assess risk and make decisions related to sexual and reproductive health (e.g., contraceptive pill usage). This analysis formulates approaches for extracting and visualizing semantic data from microblogs to identify meaningful themes and constructs in order to inform public health practice. Lessons Learned: Reaching unmotivated health information consumers presents a challenge across the continuum of public health education and practice. The uptake of new social media, however, has been rapid and permeating. Extending their application to health research, user-generated microblogs can be used to expand the knowledge base on peripheral influences that dictate adolescents' awareness and intentions to use contraception for preventing pregnancy and safeguarding overall health status.

Recommendations: The techniques proposed are intended to supplement the formative steps of public health program planning and development. Given the surge of new social media platforms, there is an opportunity for health and technology to evolve more synergistically. Embedding health messages in social networking channels is one strategy for creating awareness and connecting with discrete internet consumers.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain how increased social media usage among adolescents creates opportunities for health promotion. 2. Discuss strategies for integrating characteristics and “lessons learned” from social media campaigns into a model for states and communities.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Media

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This abstract is written in partial fulfillment of the capstone requirements for the Master of Public Health degree from George Washington University. In addition, I am engaged in professional development through work with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, as a member of the Chronic Disease Prevention Policy staff.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.