Social Media Use for Health Purposes: Systematic Review.

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Social media has been widely used for health-related purposes, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous reviews have summarized social media uses for a specific health purpose such as health interventions, health campaigns, medical education, and disease outbreak surveillance. The most recent comprehensive review of social media uses for health purposes, however, was conducted in 2013. A systematic review that covers various health purposes is needed to reveal the new usages and research gaps that emerge in recent years.This study aimed to provide a systematic review of social media uses for health purposes that have been identified in previous studies.The researchers searched for peer-reviewed journal articles published between 2006 and 2020 in 12 databases covering medicine, public health, and social science. After coding the articles in terms of publication year, journal area, country, method, social media platform, and social media use for health purposes, the researchers provided a review of social media use for health purposes identified in these articles.This study summarized 10 social media uses for various health purposes by health institutions, health researchers and practitioners, and the public.Social media can be used for various health purposes. Several new usages have emerged since 2013 including advancing health research and practice, social mobilization, and facilitating offline health-related services and events. Research gaps exist regarding advancing strategic use of social media based on audience segmentation, evaluating the impact of social media in health interventions, understanding the impact of health identity development, and addressing privacy concerns.

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Authors: Junhan Chen, Yuan Wang