Theoretical approaches of online social network interventions and implications for behavioral change : a systematic review

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice

Publication Date



Advance publication

First Page


Last Page



Blackwell Publishing Ltd


Behavioral change, Health intervention, Health psychology, Online social network, Social cognitive theory, Social media


Rational, aims and objectives: The aim of this review was to identify general theoretical frameworks used in online social network interventions for behavioral change. To address this research question, a PRISMA-compliant systematic review was conducted.

Methods: A systematic review (PROSPERO registration number CRD42014007555) was conducted using 3 electronic databases (PsycINFO, Pubmed, and Embase). Four reviewers screened 1788 abstracts.

Results: 15 studies were selected according to the eligibility criteria. Randomized controlled trials and controlled studies were assessed using Cochrane Collaboration's "risk-of-bias" tool, and narrative synthesis. Five eligible articles used the social cognitive theory as a framework to develop interventions targeting behavioral change. Other theoretical frameworks were related to the dynamics of social networks, intention models, and community engagement theories. Only one of the studies selected in the review mentioned a well-known theory from the field of health psychology.

Conclusion: Conclusions were that guidelines are lacking in the design of online social network interventions for behavioral change. Existing theories and models from health psychology that are traditionally used for in situ behavioral change should be considered when designing online social network interventions in a health care setting.



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Funding Information

Funded by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in E-Health (1032664) and a Special Research Initiative of the Australian Research Council: ARC-SRI Science of Learning Research Centre (SRI20300015). {1032664, SRI20300015}

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Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

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Recommended Citation

Arguel, A., Perez-Concha, O., Li, S. Y., & Lau, A. Y. (2016). Theoretical approaches of online social network interventions and implications for behavioral change: A systematic review. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, Advance publication, 1-10. doi: 10.1111/jep.12655