Like This Study? use of Social Networking Sites in Behavioral Medicine


  • K. L. Schneider
  • S. L. Pagoto


Background: The reach of social networking sites (SNS) creates unique research opportunities. In behavioral research, SNS may be used for recruitment, retention and intervention delivery. Methods: We conducted a review of SNS uses for recruitment, retention and intervention in behavioral medicine using pubmed. Search terms included: social media, online social network, social network site, social web, as well as specific SNS (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, MySpace), and pertinent research terms (e.g., recruit, intervene). Findings: Results suggest that SNS can improve recruitment and retention, particularly when SNS target specific populations. Limitations include concerns about representativeness and privacy. While a variety of SNS have been used for intervention, the majority of studies utilize Facebook. Most studies recruited college students, but intervened on a variety of behaviors (e.g., smoking, condom use, weight loss). Few interventions integrated multiple SNS. Some intervention challenges may be unique to SNS (e.g., spread of misinformation). However, SNS can objectively track intervention use, which can be used to identify the most effective aspects and further hone the intervention. Discussion: SNS offer distinct ways to support behavioral medicine research, though barriers exist. SNS may provide an inexpensive and sustainable way to disseminate interventions.