New U-M School of Nursing study evaluates the sexual health behaviors of young Black males through social media

A new study led by U-M School of Nursing Assistant Professor Jade Burns, Ph.D., RN, CPNP-PC, examines the impact and reach of social media platforms as a community-based tool for disseminating sexual health information and increasing engagement among Black adolescents and young adults. The School of Nursing's Tanaka ChavandukaLynae Darbes and Rob Stephenson also contributed to the study.

Jade Burns faculty portraitWhile social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have shown to be effective in promoting sexual health interventions and disseminating reproductive health education, there is a lack of research on the impact of these platforms among the targeted, high-risk population of Black adolescents and young adults.

Using data from a web-based survey that reached more than 146,000 individuals, the study assessed sexual health and health behaviors of Black males ages 18 to 24, monitoring metrics from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The cross-sectional survey comprised several categories, including drug-related risk behaviors, sexual reproductive health, mental health, social media preferences and more. The study, which aimed to determine the social media platforms and banner advertisements that affect engagement among young Black men, found that referral through group chat and indirect social media sharing led to the greatest proportion of recruitment, with Twitter and YouTube as the preferred sites to receive sexual health information.

"Recognizing the variety of technologies being used among Black male young adults and adolescents can help the community, researchers and health care providers understand the web-based engagement of this high-risk population," the study's authors concluded. "This information may also promote culturally sensitive, customized marketing on sexual health information for this population."

Read the full study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.