July 2022 Newsletter

Save the Date!

Pre-Conference Workshop

Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Location: UCSF Mission Bay Campus, San Francisco, CA

This workshop will be a “live” mock study section. In this workshop, mock reviewers will review Specific Aims of 2-3 applicants. This session is aimed to provide feedback, and an understanding of the review process, to those actively preparing grants in social media and health. If you are interested in having your grant’s Specific Aims reviewed, please send it to [email protected] by September 16. Specific Aims will be selected for review in/at the live mock study section to reflect the breadth of methods and topics. If your Specific Aims is selected, you will be notified via email by September 30.

This workshop will have NIH Program Officers in attendance. Workshop attendees should have some familiarity with the NIH grant process and are actively preparing grants. Registration will be $50 for faculty/professionals and $20 for trainees/students. Registration is limited to 30 attendees due to venue capacity and COVID-19 safety measures.

PRISM 2022

Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Location: Fisher Banquet Room, Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco, CA

The Promoting Research in Social Media and Health Symposium (PRISM) is one of the few symposiums dedicated to social media and health research. An all-day event that fosters a collaborative learning environment, PRISM provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for participants to meet, collaborate, and advance their work. Now in its seventh year, PRISM has hosted academic researchers, industry partners, patients, and advocates from over 40 unique institutions. Registration will be $100 for faculty/professionals and $40 for trainees/students.


International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII) 11th Scientific Meeting

Pittsburgh, PA | September 19-21, 2022
Storm Clouds and Silver Linings: How Digital Technologies Have Helped Us Weather the COVID Pandemic

Registration is now open!

Promo flyer with the Pittsburgh skyline in the background


Data Analyst, University of Maryland

The data analyst for the Department of Epidemiology provides research support for a NIH-funded R01 project entitled “Risk and strength: determining the impact of area-level racial bias and protective factors on birth outcomes.” Under the direction of PRISM Steering Committee member, Dr. Thu Nguyen, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the analyst will help lead publications investigating the role of area-level racial sentiment, hate speech, and racial prejudice on adverse birth outcomes and other health outcomes. The analyst must have expertise in data science as the role involves collecting, cleaning, and analyzing social media data. The analyst will help address issues related to examining the impact of area-level racial bias measured from online and social media data and adverse birth outcomes. Data sets the analyst will be working include social media data such as Twitter data and national natality files. The analyst will be part of an interdisciplinary research team and will be invited to collaborate on other components of the research project involving qualitative analysis and community-engaged research.

Why should you apply for this position?

  • Be part of a positive, supportive, productive interdisciplinary research team
  • Gain a mentor who is committed to your career development
  • Work on cool research projects related to health equity
  • Great fit for those who like to be curious, learn new things, challenge themselves, and grow professionally
Apply here: https://ejobs.umd.edu/postings/97279.

Participate in Research

Physicians at the University of California, San Francisco are running a research study to learn more effective ways to support quitting vaping. Participants can receive up to $90 to take a survey and go through a support program to quit vaping! See if you qualify: www.QuitTheHitCA.com.

Recruitment flyer with graphic of four people looking at their phones

IJERPH Special Issue: "Big Data for the Advancement of Health Equity"

PRISM Steering Committee member, Dr. Thu Nguyen, is guest editor of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health’s special issue, “Big Data for the Advancement of Health Equity.” Publication cost waivers for papers submitted for this special issue are available. If you are interested in submitting a paper to this special issue, please contact Dr. Nguyen ([email protected]) and she can request a waiver.


Fentanyl Tainted Pills Bought on Social Media Cause Youth Drug Deaths to Soar

A Drug Enforcement Administration fact sheet shows authentic prescription pills and counterfeit ones.

Source: Drug Enforcement Administration


With teens and young adults turning towards social media to find Percocet, Xanax, and other pills, youth deaths are increasing as most pills are laced with deadly doses of fentanyl. In this New York Times article PRISM Steering Committee member, Dr. Tim Mackey, shared his expertise and explained how his start-up, S-3 Research, detects illicit online drug sales.

Recent Social Media and Health Publications

Escobar-Viera CG, Choukas-Bradley S, Sidani J, Maheux AJ, Roberts SR and Rollman BL (2022) Examining Social Media Experiences and Attitudes Toward Technology-Based Interventions for Reducing Social Isolation Among LGBTQ Youth Living in Rural United States: An Online Qualitative Study. Front. Digit. Health 4:900695. doi: 10.3389/fdgth.2022.900695.

Co-authored by PRISM Steering Committee member, Dr. César Escobar-Viera, this qualitative study examined rural LGBTQ youth's social media experiences and attitudes toward technology-based interventions for reducing perceived isolation. Related to supportive social media content and interactions, themes included (1) positive representation of and connecting with LGBTQ groups on social media are important; (2) content from people with shared experience feels supportive, and (3) lack of feedback to one's experiences is isolating. Regarding personal strategies to improve social media experiences, themes were (1) selecting platforms to connect with different audiences helps make for a more enjoyable social media experience, and (2) several social media platform features can help make for a safer social media experience. Youth discussed advantages and disadvantages of intervention delivery via a mobile app, social media pages or groups, conversational agents (chatbots), and a dedicated website.

Guo Y, Li Y, Yu C, Xu H, Hong YA, Wang X, Zhang N, Zeng Y, Monroe-Wise A, Li L, Liu C, Cai W, Lin A. Long-term Effects of a Social Media-Based Intervention (Run4Love) on Depressive Symptoms of People Living With HIV: 3-Year Follow-up of a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Med Internet Res. 2022 Jun 28;24(6):e36809. doi: 10.2196/36809. PMID: 35763324.

The purpose of this study was to assess the long-term effects of a randomized controlled trial called Run4Love on depressive symptoms among people living with HIV in Guangzhou, China at 1-year and 3-year follow-ups. The intervention group received a 3-month Run4Love program, including adapted evidence-based cognitive behavioral stress management courses and exercise promotion via WeChat, a popular social media app. Control group received usual care and a brochure on nutrition. 49.7% (149/300) completed the assessment at 1-year and 59% completed the 3-year (177/300) follow-up. At 1-year follow-up, participants in the intervention group reported significant reduction in depressive symptoms compared with the control group. At 3-year follow-up, between-group difference in depressive symptoms remained statistically significant.

Hagen L, Fox A, O'Leary H, Dyson D, Walker K, Lengacher CA, Hernandez R. The Role of Influential Actors in Fostering the Polarized COVID-19 Vaccine Discourse on Twitter: Mixed Methods of Machine Learning and Inductive Coding. JMIR Infodemiology 2022;2(1):e34231. doi: 10.2196/34231

This study investigated the role of influential actors in the context of the community structures and discourse related to COVID-19 vaccine conversations on Twitter that emerged prior to the vaccine rollout to the general population and discuss implications for vaccine promotion and policy. Tweets on COVID-19 were collected between July 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020, a time when attitudes toward the vaccines were forming but before the vaccines were widely available to the public. Twitter vaccine conversations were highly polarized, with different actors occupying separate “clusters.” The antivaccine cluster was the most densely connected group. Among the 100 most influential actors, medical experts were outnumbered both by partisan actors and by activist vaccine skeptics or conspiracy theorists. Scientists and medical actors were largely absent from the conservative network, and antivaccine sentiment was especially salient among actors on the political right.

Healy E, O'Malley G, Mugo C, Kaggiah A, Seeh D, Muriithi A, Lopez AR, Kumar M, Guthrie B, Moreno M, John-Stewart G, Inwani I, Ronen K. "Whenever you need support, you first turn to the group": motivations and functions of WhatsApp groups for youth living with HIV. AIDS Care. 2022 Jun 27:1-10. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2022.2088680. PMID: 35761786.

Drawing on the spontaneous creation of WhatsApp support groups by youth living with HIV (YLWH) in Nairobi, Kenya, this study characterized Kenyan YLWH's social support needs and potential roles of social media groups in meeting them. Study team conducted interviews and focus-groups with YLWH, caregivers, and healthcare workers, and observed two YLWH-led WhatsApp groups. Youth reported that existing support systems, including family and healthcare workers, already provided informational and instrumental support. However, they emphasized unmet companionship and emotional support needs, leading to isolation, hopelessness, and medication adherence challenges. Participants identified connection with other YLWH as a unique source of emotional and companionship support that allowed them to feel more secure and less isolated.

Jiang N, Rogers ES, Cupertino P, Zhao X, Cartujano-Barrera F, Lyu JC, Hu L, Sherman SE. Development of a WeChat-based Mobile Messaging Smoking Cessation Intervention for Chinese Immigrant Smokers: Qualitative Interview Study. JMIR Form Res. 2022 Jun 30;6(6):e36091. doi: 10.2196/36091. PMID: 35771603.

This study describes the development of a culturally and linguistically appropriate mobile messaging smoking cessation intervention for Chinese immigrant smokers delivered via WeChat. In-depth interviews were conducted to explore participants' smoking and quitting experiences, followed by assessment of the text messages developed by the study team on WeChat. Overall, participants reported the messages enhanced motivation to quit, offered encouragement, and made them more informed about how to quit. Participants particularly liked messages about the harms of smoking and strategies for quitting. They reported barriers to applying some of the quitting strategies, including coping with stress and staying abstinent at work. Participants expressed strong interest in the WeChat mobile messaging cessation intervention and commented on its potential to expand their access to smoking cessation treatment.

McMann TJ, Calac A, Nali M, Cuomo R, Maroulis J, Mackey TK. Synthetic Cannabinoids in Prisons: Content Analysis of TikToks. JMIR Infodemiology. 2022;2(1):e37632. doi: 10.2196/37632.


In this study co-authored by PRISM Steering Committee member, Dr. Timothy Mackey, TikTok posts were examined for use and illicit distribution of psychoactive substances (eg, K2/Spice) among incarcerated populations. TikTok videos associated with the #k2spice hashtag were collected and a data collection approach similar to snowball sampling was used. A total of 89 TikTok videos with the hashtag #k2spice were manually coded, with 40% (n=36) identified as displaying the use, solicitation, or adverse effects of K2/Spice among the prison population. Of them, 44% (n=16) were in a prison-based setting documenting adverse effects including possible overdose. Videos with higher user engagement were positively correlated with comments indicating an intent to buy or sell K2/Spice.