Social media use in interventions for diabetes: Rapid evidence-based review
BACKGROUND: Health authorities recommend educating diabetic patients and their families and initiating measures aimed at improving self-management, promoting a positive behavior change, and reducing the risk of complications. Social media could provide valid channel to intervene in and deliver diabetes education. However, it is not well known whether the use of these channels in such interventions can help improve the patients' outcomes.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of our study was to review and describe the current existing evidence on the use of social media in interventions targeting people affected with diabetes.
METHODS: A search was conducted across 4 databases (PubMed, Scopus, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library). The quality of the evidence of the included primary studies was graded according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation criteria, and the risk of bias of systematic reviews was assessed by drawing on the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews guidelines. The outcomes reported by these studies were extracted and analyzed.
RESULTS: We included 20 moderate- and high-quality studies in the review: 17 primary studies and 3 systematic reviews. Of the 16 publications evaluating the effect on glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) of the interventions using social media, 13 reported significant reductions in HbA1c values. The 5 studies that measured satisfaction with the interventions using social media found positive effects. We found mixed evidence regarding the effect of interventions using social media on health-related quality of life (2 publications found positive effects and 3 found no differences) and on diabetes knowledge or empowerment (2 studies reported improvements and 2 reported no significant changes).
CONCLUSIONS: There is very little good-quality evidence on the use of social media in interventions aimed at helping people with diabetes. However, the use of these channels is mostly linked to benefits on patients' outcomes. Public health institutions, clinicians, and other stakeholders who aim at improving the knowledge of diabetic patients could consider the use of social media in their interventions.