Revista de informática médica y de salud

Social Media Use for Healthcare in Developing Countries: A Systematic Review


Behailu Haile

Background: The application of SM in healthcare is increasing from time to time, which might highly benefit patients, professionals, and healthcare providers. Studies suggested that patients, professionals, and healthcare providers’ use of SM for healthcare purposes could significantly benefit individuals and institutes to improve healthcare management. However, little is known about the use of social media in healthcare in developing countries, this systematic review is based on the objective of exploring the uses of SM in healthcare in developing countries and identifying effective SM platforms used in healthcare in developing countries.

Methods: We developed the search strategy, which includes five databases: PubMed, Science direct, ERIC, IEEE, and Google scholars. Searching on those databases included all English language studies published since 2018 and discussed SM use in developing countries for health care. Searching was conducted between October 2021 and July 2022.

Results: The search obtained 1535 article titles based on the search strings formed by the combination of keywords. Of the total searched article titles, each database has a share of Pubmed=241, ERIC=222, Science direct=995 and IEEE=77 of these 16 studies are identified as relevant. From studies included in the review the number of articles is in South Africa (4), Nigeria (4), Ghana (2), Cameroon (1), China (2), Pakistan (1), Colombia (1), and Indonesia (1). 37.5% of the included studies were focused on the use of SM for organizing healthcare campaigns and promotion, 18.75% of the included studies were focused on the application of SM for healthcare information sharing, of the included studies 18.75% of them discussed the use of SM for health communication, and 25% of the included studies focused on SM content analysis. It is identified that Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Wechat, Nairland, WhatsApp, Grindr, Wikipedia, Google Plus, and LinkedIn were the SM platforms used by the authors of the included studies as interventions to conduct their research.

Conclusion: This review gave a significant view on the uses of SM in developing countries for healthcare and identified SM platforms that are effective for healthcare. In doing so, in the review, we understand that the use of SM is not only limited to social and individual interactions for social affairs; it also has a great role in healthcare sectors. The use of SM in healthcare in developing countries improves healthcare activities such as campaign organizations, information sharing and healthcare communication by increasing the access and availability of relevant healthcare information.

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