Social media in health communication: A literature review of information quality

25 April, 2021

An interesting paper from researchers in Ghana. Comment from me below.

CITATION: Health Inf Manag. 2021 Apr 04. 1833358321992683

Social media in health communication: A literature review of information quality.

Afful-Dadzie E, Afful-Dadzie A, Egala SB

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1833358321992683

URL: http://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33818176

ABSTRACT

Background: Social media is used in health communication by individuals, health professionals, disease centres and other health regulatory bodies. However, varying degrees of information quality are churned out daily on social media. This review is concerned with the quality of Social Media Health Information (SMHI).

Objective: The review sought to understand how SMHI quality issues have been framed and addressed in the literature. Health topics, users and social media platforms that have raised health information quality concerns are reviewed. The review also looked at the suitability of existing criteria and instruments used in evaluating SMHI and identified gaps for future research.

Method: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses and the forward chaining strategy were used in the document search. Data were sourced according to inclusion criteria from five academic databases, namely Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, PubMed and MEDLINE.

Results: A total of 93 articles published between 2000 and 2019 were used in the review. The review revealed a worrying trend of health content and communication on social media, especially of cancer, dental care and diabetes information on YouTube. The review further discovered that the Journal of the American Medical Association, the DISCERN and the Health on the Net Foundation, which were designed before the advent of social media, continue to be used as quality evaluation instruments for SMHI, even though technical and user characteristics of social media differ from traditional portals such as websites.

Conclusion: The study synthesises varied opinions on SMHI quality in the literature and recommends that future research proposes quality evaluation criteria and instruments specifically for SMHI.

Comment (NPW): The review points out that tools such as 'Health on the Net Foundation, which were designed before the advent of social media, continue to be used as quality evaluation instruments for SMHI, even though technical and user characteristics of social media differ from traditional portals such as websites' and 'recommends that future research proposes quality evaluation criteria and instruments specifically for SMHI'. The feasibility and approach to

assessing healthcare information on social media is an interesting challenge that raises lots of issues. I have invited the authors to join us.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org