The Impact of Health Education Transmitted Via Social Media or Text Messaging on Adolescent and Young Adult Risky Sexual Behavior: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Jones, Krista DNP, RN*; Eathington, Patricia DNP, RN; Baldwin, Kathleen PhD, RN; Sipsma, Heather PhD§

Sexually Transmitted Diseases:
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000146
Review
Abstract

Abstract: Despite the increased use of social media and text messaging among adolescents, it is unclear how effective education transmitted via these mechanisms is for reducing sexual risk behavior. Accordingly, we conducted a systematic review of the literature to examine the effectiveness of social media and text messaging interventions designed to increase sexually transmitted disease (STD) knowledge, increase screening/testing, decrease risky sexual behaviors, and reduce the incidence of STDs among young adults aged 15 through 24 years. Eleven studies met our inclusion criteria. Most of the included studies used a control group to explore intervention effects and included both young men and women. Sample sizes ranged from 32 to 7606 participants, and follow-up periods ranged between 4 weeks and 12 months. These studies provide preliminary evidence indicating that social media and text messaging can increase knowledge regarding the prevention of STDs. These interventions may also affect behavior, such as screening/testing for STDs, sexual risk behaviors, and STD acquisition, but the evidence for effect is weak. Many of these studies had several limitations that future research should address, including a reliance on self-reported data, small sample sizes, poor retention, low generalizability, and low analytic rigor. Additional research is needed to determine the most effective and engaging approaches for young men and women.

In Brief

This systematic review describes the current literature examining the impact of social media and text messaging on sexually transmitted disease prevention among adolescents and young adults. This evidence provides substantial information and guidance for health care researchers and professionals.

Author Information

From the *Department of Health Systems Sciences, University of Illinois College of Nursing at Chicago, Urbana Regional Campus, Urbana, IL; †Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL; Department of Health Systems Sciences, University of Illinois College of Nursing at Chicago, Peoria Regional Campus, Peoria, IL; and §Department of Women, Children and Family Health Sciences, Chicago College of Nursing, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

Conflict of interest: None declared.

Correspondence: Krista Jones, DNP, RN, Department of Health Systems Sciences, Chicago College of Nursing, University of Illinois, 408 S. Goodwin, Urbana IL. 61801. E-mail: kjones29@illinois.edu.

Received for publication July 7, 2013, and accepted April 29, 2014.

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