Comprehensive scoping review of health research using social media data

Joanna Taylor, Claudia Pagliari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The rising popularity of social media, since their inception around 20 years ago, has been echoed in the growth of health-related research using data derived from them. This has created a demand for literature reviews to synthesise this emerging evidence base and inform future activities. Existing reviews tend to be narrow in scope, with limited consideration of the different types of data, analytical methods and ethical issues involved. There has also been a tendency for research to be siloed within different academic communities (eg, computer science, public health), hindering knowledge translation. To address these limitations, we will undertake a comprehensive scoping review, to systematically capture the broad corpus of published, health-related research based on social media data. Here, we present the review protocol and the pilot analyses used to inform it.

A version of Arksey and O’Malley’s five-stage scoping review framework will be followed: (1) identifying the research question; (2) identifying the relevant literature; (3) selecting the studies; (4) charting the data and (5) collating, summarising and reporting the results. To inform the search strategy, we developed an inclusive list of keyword combinations related to social media, health and relevant methodologies. The frequency and variability of terms were charted over time and cross referenced with significant events, such as the advent of Twitter. Five leading health, informatics, business and cross-disciplinary databases will be searched: PubMed, Scopus, Association of Computer Machinery, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, alongside the Google search engine. There will be no restriction by date.

Ethics and dissemination:
The review focuses on published research in the public domain therefore no ethics approval is required. The completed review will be submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary open access journal, and conferences on public health and digital research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Digital Health
  • Social Media
  • Research Methods
  • Data Mining
  • Health analytics


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