Assessing the impact of online health education interventions from 2010-2020: A systematic review

10 November, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

This paper is potentially very relevant to HIFA and the metadata tell us that at least one of the studies is from a LMIC, but unfortunately the full text is restricted-access so its impact is limited.

CITATION: Claflin SB, Klekociuk S, Fair H, Bostock E, Farrow M, Doherty K, et al. Assessing the impact of online health education interventions from 2010-2020: A systematic review of the evidence. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2021


OBJECTIVE: Systematically review the evaluation and impact of online health education interventions: assess approaches used, summarize main findings, and identify knowledge gaps. DATA SOURCE: We searched the following databases: EMBASE, ERIC, MEDLINE, and Web of Science. STUDY INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION CRITERIA: Studies were included if (a) published in English between 2010-2020 in a peer-reviewed journal (b) reported an online health education intervention aimed at consumers, caregivers, and the public (c) evaluated implementation OR participant outcomes (d) included >/= 100 participants per study arm. DATA EXTRACTION: Two authors extracted data using a standardized form. DATA SYNTHESIS: Data synthesis was structured around the primary outcomes of the included studies. RESULTS: 26 studies met the inclusion criteria. We found substantial heterogeneity in study population, design, intervention, and primary outcomes, and significant methodological issues that resulted in moderate to high risk of bias. Overall, interventions that were available to all (e.g., on YouTube) consistently attained a large global reach, and knowledge was consistently improved. However, the impact on other outcomes of interest (e.g., health literacy, health behaviors) remains unclear. CONCLUSION: Evidence around the impacts of the type of online health education interventions assessed in this review is sparse. A greater understanding of who online interventions work for and what outcomes can be achieved is crucial to determine, and potentially expand, their place in health education.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,