Background: Adolescent reproductive health education is essential to prevent transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and teen pregnancy. Half of all new STIs occur among 15-24 year-olds and 1 in 4 adolescent females has had an STI. In the United States, approximately 750,000 teenagers become pregnant per year. Adolescents are known to have poor access to preventive care, and even when seen in the primary care setting, reproductive health is often not addressed. In addition, the degree to which adolescents are taught about reproductive health often depends on school curriculum, parents, friends, and the community; all of which can vary widely and may not be accurate. The hospital setting may provide an optimal opportunity to address this need. Social media continues to dominate the lives of our adolescent patients. A national survey found that 75% of American teens (13-17 years old) use Snapchat, a social media platform. Research regarding use of Snapchat to provide adolescents with health information is lacking.
Purpose: Assess utility of a novel use of a social media platform (Snapchat) to deliver educational materials to hospitalized adolescents.
Description: We developed a unique code (Snapcode) which links to educational materials via Snapchat. Advantages of using this novel delivery mechanism include using a popular social media platform to increase the likelihood of materials being viewed by the adolescent and allowing the distribution of sensitive educational materials in a discrete manner, limiting viewing outside the intended audience (such as parents). The educational materials are located on Box.com, include links to educational websites and local resources, can be updated at any time without having to update the Snapcode and were reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee. The Snapcode was printed on business cards labeled “Teen Health Info” and distributed to hospitalized adolescents. We tracked how often the code is distributed and how often the materials are accessed through information provided by Box.com on PDF views and information about Snapcode access data provided by Snapchat. Over the 7 months of implementation, tracking information on Box.com show 155 views with our team accessing it 33 times and 63 duplicate views (accessed multiple times within 10 minutes). Therefore, the remaining 59 views were likely by adolescents. Snapchat will provide more utilization data after 100 unique accounts access the Snapcode.
Conclusions: While in the preliminary stages of implementation, using a Snapcode appears to be a promising and innovative way to distribute accurate and comprehensive educational materials to adolescents in a discrete manner. This mechanism may be implemented in a variety of setting such as outpatient clinics and emergency rooms. Technology continues to be a part of our pediatric patients’ lives, this work demonstrates the ability for providers to use social media as a tool to reach our adolescents in an meaningful way.