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Public health use of digital technology to advance health equity

Social media has become an ever-present aspect of life. Public health can increase its influence and impact on the social determinants of health and health equity by harnessing social media.

The NCCDH conducted surveys in 2012 and 2016 to assess how public health used social media and other digital tools for knowledge translation, relationship building, and specific public health roles to advance health equity.

Highlights:

  • Most participants thought social media had an important role in public health and were generally comfortable in online spaces.
  • Half of respondents were satisfied with their ability to use social media.
  • Social media was used more frequently for personal purposes, and was less present in professional settings.
  • More than one in five of those surveyed used Twitter or Facebook at least weekly for knowledge exchange.
  • Social media is being used to address public health equity roles.

These findings indicate that there is room to enhance the use of social media in public health practice. Capacity building and organizational policies that support social media use may help achieve this.

A version of this report is also published in the Journal of Public Health Policy: Ndumbe-Eyoh, S. & Mazzucco, A. Social media, knowledge translation, and action on the social determinants of health and health equity: A survey of public health practices. J Public Health Pol (2016) 37(Suppl 2): 249.

Use this resource to:

  • Describe how and why public health professionals use social media and other digital tools
  • Identify which social media platforms are most relevant for public health professionals
  • Explore areas for developing capacity for social media use

Reference:

National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2017). Public health use of digital technology to advance health equity. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.

Tags: Assess and report, Communicate, Community development, Knowledge translation , Leadership & capacity building, Methods & tools, Partnership

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