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Table 3 Results for primary outcomes and conclusions of included studies

From: A systematic review of the use and effectiveness of social media in child health

Author, Year (Study design) Authors’ Conclusions Statistically Significant* Conclusions
Braner, 2004 [11] (Cross-sectional) Positive NA Families and referring physicians found the web-based communications to be helpful during a child’s pediatric intensive care unit hospitalization.
Lim Fat, 2011 [12] (Content analysis) Positive NA YouTube may be an efficient teaching tool for infantile spasms, based on the number and quality of videos available. Education regarding effective search and selection practices is important to take advantage of YouTube as an information resource.
Ewing, 2009 [13] (Mixed methods) Neutral NA Usage of the website was lower in this study than what has been reported in similar populations. The timing and method by which families are introduced to the website may influence their future use of the site.
Nicholas, 2012 [14] (Mixed methods) Positive Yes Fathers of children with a brain tumor are an underserved clinical population at considerable emotional risk. Online social support resources may facilitate paternal coping.
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis   
Stinson, 2010 [15] (Content analysis) Positive NA Support for the usability of the Teens Taking Charge: Managing Arthritis Online treatment program for youth with juvenile idiopathic arthritis appears to be strong. Online self-management programs for youth with chronic health conditions increase the accessibility and acceptability of treatments to youth unable to obtain these services in their local communities.
Renal Disease    
Bers, 2001 [16] (Ethnography) Positive NA Through Zora, dialysis patients were able to express themselves and explore aspects of their identity that are usually underplayed during treatment. Patients had the ability to privately interact with others in similar situations, share opinions about their medical treatment and contribute to social support networks.
Bers, 2009 [17] (Content analysis) Positive NA Zora was well-received by patients, parents and medical staff. The program brought about general satisfaction and changes in some patients.
Type 1 Diabetes   
Merkel, 2012 [18] (Before-after) Positive Yes Online social support is a feasible, cost-effective and low maintenance approach to healthcare management. Participants noted that the safe and secure environment for sharing life experiences related to the care of a child with type 1 diabetes was a major benefit of the online support group.
Nordfeldt, 2010 [19] (Content analysis) Positive NA Web 2.0 services may help parents and patients with type 1 diabetes retrieve information and manage their condition. Health care professionals should be committed to maintaining and updating this information to support continued use of online resources.
Whittemore, 2010 [20] (RCT) Positive No The group-based computer skills training intervention, TEENCOPE, was feasible and acceptable for adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Preliminary findings suggest that TEENCOPE improves select health outcomes in this population and indicate effect sizes for a future clinical trial.
Baum, 2004 [21] (Cross-sectional) Positive NA Internet Parent Support Group (IPSG) may be a valuable resource to help parents understand and manage their children with special health care needs, especially for mothers under the stress of dealing with a chronically ill child. This study found that IPSG participation benefited caregiver-child relationships and ability to relax, but not health habits.
Nicholas, 2007 [22] (Ethnography) Positive NA Online networks are promising resources for children and tools for promoting family-centered care. Online interventions contribute to enhanced self-esteem, reduced depression and other important child health outcomes, and appear to be promising as an augmenting source of psychosocial support.
Health Promotion    
Healthy Diet & Exercise
Cordeira, 2012 [23] (Before-after) Neutral No Programs promoting healthy behaviors for high school students require different strategies than maintaining healthy behaviors. Tailoring a program to meet the needs of all students may increase the potential reach of the program.
DeBar, 2009 [24] (RCT) Positive No This health care-based lifestyle intervention demonstrated significant increases in bone mineral density in the spine and femoral trochanter of girls aged 14–16 with low body mass index. Furthermore, the intervention increased dietary calcium, vitamin D, and fruit and vegetable consumption during a 2-year period.
Lao, 2011 [25] (RCT) Neutral No Social media has the ability to reach a large population with minimal effort; however, engaging at-risk students in health-promoting web groups and news feeds is difficult.
Rydell, 2005 [26] (RCT) Neutral No This community-based behavioral intervention aimed at increasing dietary calcium intake and weight bearing physical activity (WBPA) was not effective in increasing bone mass gains, or frequency of WBPA, over a two-year period.
Savige, 2005 [27] (Cross-sectional) Positive NA The website was successful in promoting children's interest in food. Nutrition promotion websites are beneficial because children are allowed to interact with their peers beyond the classroom, and websites can accommodate the changing needs of children.
Sexual Health
Cox, 2009 [28] (RCT) Positive No The web-based intervention was equally effective at improving mothers’ knowledge, communication skills, and self-efficacy as the written material control. Low-income, rural women with little to no prior computer experience can effectively learn and communicate online health information to their adolescents.
Jones, 2012 [29] (Cross-sectional) Positive NA This study provides preliminary support for the use of social media, particularly Facebook, as an information dissemination and positive behavioral change tool for 15- to 24-year-olds.
Lou, 2006 [30] (NRCT) Positive Yes Internet education programs increased students' health knowledge of reproduction and had some influence on attitudes, but no influence on behavior.
Yager, 2012 [31] (Cross-sectional) Positive NA Using Facebook to circulate information to the adolescent population is a viable option. Full awareness of the potential risks and benefits of using social networking is important before dissemination of information via social media becomes common practice.
Smoking Cessation
Chen, 2006 [32, 33] (NRCT) Positive NR The auricular acupressure and internet-assistant smoking cessation program significantly improved quitting rate and self-efficacy of the participants. Auricular acupressure can be safely self-administered by adolescents under the guidance of health educators. Adolescents may feel self-control and self-regulation through this method, and be more confident in facing the challenges of smoking cessation.
Patten, 2006 [34] (RCT) Neutral No This home-based internet-delivered intervention was ineffective for adolescent smoking cessation. Abstinence rates were higher in the control group (not significant); however, intervention participants showed greater progress and reduction in the number of days smoked.
Baggett, 2010 [35] (RCT) Positive No An internet-based intervention aimed at promoting infant social-emotional behavior through sensitive, responsive interactions with mothers may be beneficial. Online programs can reach families and professionals who may not otherwise be able to access direct intervention services or individualized training and ongoing support.
Hudson, 2012 [36] (RCT) Positive No The New Mothers Network website may be an effective intervention for providing social support, especially emotional/appraisal support, to single, low-income adolescent mothers. Self-esteem was significantly higher in the intervention group.
  1. *Statistical significance of primary outcome, if applicable.
  2. NA: not applicable; NR: not reported.