Engagement, dissemination and dialogue using social media: considerations for health researchers


Oral session: Knowledge translation and communicating evidence (4)


Wednesday 23 October 2019 - 14:00 to 15:30


All authors in correct order:

Elliott SA1, Dyson MP2, Wilkes GV3, Zimmermann GL4, Chambers CT5, Wittmeier KD6, Russell DJ7, Jensen KE8, Scott SD9, Thomson D10, Hartling L11
1 Cochrane Child Health, University of Alberta, Canada
2 Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence,Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Canada
3 Faculty of Communications, Mount Royal University, Canada
4 Knowledge Translation Platform, Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Canada
5 Department of Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, Canada
6 Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba, Canada
7 Research & Knowledge Exchange Consultant, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University, Canada
8 Knowledge Mobilisation officer, York University, Canada
9 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Canada
10 Knowledge Translation Platform, Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta; Cochrane Child Health, University of Alberta, Canada
11 Alberta Research Centre for Health Evidence, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta; Knowledge Translation Platform, Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta; Cochrane Child Health, University of Alberta, Canada
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author:

Sarah Elliott

Contact person:

Abstract text
Background: Despite extensive literature describing the use of social media in health research, a gap exists around best practices in establishing, implementing and evaluating effective social media knowledge translation (KT) strategies.

Objectives: Our goal was to summarize successes, challenges, and lessons learned from utilizing social media within health research, and create practical considerations to guide other researchers.

Methods: The Knowledge Translation Platform, Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit, formed a working group involving platform staff, academics, and a parent representative with experience using social media for pediatric health research. We collected four case studies covering a spectrum of data collection, engagement, and dissemination, which utilized a mix of social media platforms and evaluation methods. We developed a data collection form to capture important elements of each case study: topic and objectives, intended audience, project logistics (social media platform(s) used, intensity, dimensions of communication, negotiated awareness, social filtering, staffing requirements, project timeline), evaluation methods (including outcomes and metrics), key findings, and lessons learned (successes and challenges). Methods and findings were summarized, as well as barriers and facilitators encountered. Through iterative discussions, we converged on recommendations and considerations for health researchers planning to use social media for KT.

Results: We provide recommendations for elements to consider when developing a social media KT strategy. 1) Set clear goals and identify a theory, framework, or model that aligns with your goals and objectives. 2) Understand your target audience. 3) Choose a platform or platforms that meets your target audience’s needs and your team’s capabilities. 4) Use social filtering and negotiated awareness to tailor messages to meet user needs and platform requirements. 5) Consider timing, frequency, and duration of messaging, as well as nature of interactions. 6) Ensure adequate resources and personnel are available. 7) Develop an evaluation plan a priori driven by goals and type of data available. 8) Consider ethical approvals needed.

Conclusions: In the absence of a comprehensive framework to guide us, we drew on our collective experience using social media as an engagement and dissemination strategy in health research and present recommendations and key considerations for other health researchers using social media for KT.

Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: Parents, patients, health care consumers and caregivers were involved throughout some of the case study projects. Additionally, a parent partner was invited to be part of the research team to offer perspective on important outcomes for successful end user engagement.