Participatory approach and social media to promote healthy lifestyles on diabetes


Participatory health approaches are increasingly drawing attention among the scientific community, and could be used for health promotion programmes on chronic diseases. Participative refers to the involvement of representatives of the people who are going to be the primary beneficiaries from that research. Besides benefiting from the research findings, also have the potential to increase the interest of participants in a project in which they have participated; to enhance their psychological sense of community; to raise their awareness on their chronic condition; and therefore to enable them to have a greater autonomy and a better health.

However, a challenge of the participatory approaches is to engage representatives. Social media can be powerful outlets to attract the attention of the targeted population.

We present an ongoing participatory research project using social media to create a health promotion intervention on diabetes with the purpose to promote healthy lifestyles.


The design of this participatory health promotion intervention involves both a panel of healthcare experts and also social media users following the Norwegian Diabetes Association’s channels.

On the one side, all social media followers of the Norwegian Diabetes Association were invited to actively participate in the definition of the contents by expressing their opinions through an adhoc online questionnaire regarding their preferences; preferred contents’ format (text, images and/or video); contents’ frequency; and preferred social media channels where to find these contents. The online questionnaire was based on LimeSurvey, and it was posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in November 2017.

On the other side, a panel of five healthcare professionals with an expertise in diabetes and patient health education will agree on the contents that will be used for the health promotion intervention, by following the Delphi method. The agreed contents to be used in the health promotion intervention (between the panel of experts and social media users of diabetes groups) will be posted on the social media channels.


Regarding the link to the questionnaire asking social media users’ opinion, in one week it was received a total of 346 questionnaires answered: 332 of the questionnaires were reached from Facebook (96%); 14 from Instagram (4%); and 0 from Twitter.

Regarding the preferred contents for an health promotion intervention: 237 (68,5%) would like to find contents on research and innovation on diabetes; 188 (54,3%) on technical aspects of self-management (e.g., how to use glucose sensors); 161 (46,5%) on personal aspects of self-management (e.g., how to be motivated to follow up with diabetes); 117 (33,8%) would prefer to find interviews or personal histories from other people with diabetes; and 114 (32,9%) would like to find more contents on healthcare services. A total of 281 participants preferred diabetes related contents in text format; 150 preferred images, and 79 preferred videos.

Regarding the frequency of the health promotion contents; among 295 respondents, 37,3% would like to find diabetes-related contents on social media daily or even several times per day; while 20,3% would prefer every second or third day; and 42,4% more seldom.


This research project will continue to investigate the use of a participatory approach to design a public health intervention and to promote healthy lifestyles on diabetes among social media. The project is expected to engage a substantial part of the Norwegian population affected with diabetes and contribute to improve their quality of care and quality of life while reducing social inequalities in health. The use of a participatory approach can potentially increase diabetes patients’ engagement and satisfaction with the health promotion intervention, and therefore improving their lifestyles; as well as could provide benefits for health professionals.