News article

Twitter: an opportunity for public health campaigns

Posted:  Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A recent article in The Lancet highlighted how Twitter could be used to boost public health campaigns.

The social media platform is particularly useful when reaching out to 18-24 year olds as almost of third Internet users in this age range use the site – and 20% of those on a daily basis.

It can also be a very useful source of information and opinion on specific topics. For example, for the article, The Lancet used an tool called API to collect data about Tweets mentioning indoor tanning – something that more that about 20% of teenagers use. It was found to be mentioned in 120 000 individual posts over two-weeks, potentially reaching 100 million people. Yet the health risks of this activity, such as its association with an increased risk of skin cancer, were only mentioned in a very small percentage of these messages.

Because of Twitter’s broad reach, especially among young adults, the article concluded by urging health advocates to consider using Twitter and other social media, to help spread their messages widely.