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Developing health promotion interventions on social networking sites: recommendations from The FaceSpace Project.

Gold J, Pedrana AE, Stoove MA, Chang S, Howard S, Asselin J, Ilic O, Batrouney C, Hellard ME

  • Journal Journal of medical Internet research

  • Published 28 Feb 2012

  • Volume 14

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination e30

  • DOI 10.2196/jmir.1875


Online social networking sites offer a novel setting for the delivery of health promotion interventions due to their potential to reach a large population and the possibility for two-way engagement. However, few have attempted to host interventions on these sites, or to use the range of interactive functions available to enhance the delivery of health-related messages. This paper presents lessons learnt from "The FaceSpace Project", a sexual health promotion intervention using social networking sites targeting two key at-risk groups. Based on our experience, we make recommendations for developing and implementing health promotion interventions on these sites. Elements crucial for developing interventions include establishing a multidisciplinary team, allowing adequate time for obtaining approvals, securing sufficient resources for building and maintaining an online presence, and developing an integrated process and impact evaluation framework. With two-way interaction an important and novel feature of health promotion interventions in this medium, we also present strategies trialled to generate interest and engagement in our intervention. Social networking sites are now an established part of the online environment; our experience in developing and implementing a health promotion intervention using this medium are of direct relevance and utility for all health organizations creating a presence in this new environment.