Engagement design in studies on pregnancy and infant health using social media: Systematic review

Carol Shieh, Israt Khan, Rachel Umoren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Social media utilization is prevalent among reproductive-age women. The literature on how researchers engage women in studies using social media platforms is scarce. This systematic review analyzed participant engagement design in studies using social media and focused on pregnancy and infant health. Methods: A literature search of EBSCO and PubMed databases was conducted. Included studies had to be completed with quantitative data, focus on pregnancy, postpartum or infant health, and use social media in the research process. A matrix of three engagement designs (passive, interactive, independent) and three research processes (recruitment, data analysis, intervention) was used for analysis. Findings: Thirty-one articles that reported 30 studies met the inclusion criteria. Of these, four were randomized controlled trials (RCT), four were non-RCT interventions, and 22 were observational/descriptive studies. The main purpose of using social media was for recruitment (n = 16), data analysis (n = 6), intervention (n = 8), or both recruitment and intervention (n = 1). Passive engagement was a fundamental design approach in all studies to access a data source that was either the participant or the data provided by the participants in social media. Interactive engagement, mostly for recruitment and intervention, was to engage participants in completing study enrollment or in interacting with the study team or fellow participants. Independent engagement involved off-line activities and appeared sporadically in intervention studies. Conclusions: Passive and interactive engagement designs are more frequently used than independent engagement design. Researchers should select suitable designs when studying pregnancy and infant health using social media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101113
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Facebook
  • Health campaign
  • Independent engagement
  • Interactive engagement
  • Maternal and infant health
  • Patient engagement
  • Pregnancy
  • Social media
  • Social network
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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