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Use of social media platforms by migrant and ethnic minority populations during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review

Goldsmith, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-6934-1925, Rowland-Pomp, M., Hanson, K. , Deal, A., Crawshaw, A. F., Hayward, S. E., Knights, F., Carter, J., Ahmad, A., Razai, M., Vandrevala, T. & Hargreaves, S. (2022). Use of social media platforms by migrant and ethnic minority populations during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review. BMJ Open, 12(11), article number e061896. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-061896


Objective: Migrants and ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and have lower levels of vaccine uptake in some contexts. We aimed to determine the extent and nature of social media use in migrant and ethnic minority communities for COVID-19 information, and implications for preventative health measures including vaccination intent and uptake.

Design: A systematic review of published and grey literature following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We searched databases including Embase, Web of Science, PubMed NIH, CINAHL, facilitated through the WHO Global Research on COVID-19 database from 31 December 2019 to 9 June 2021.

Eligibility criteria for study selection: Research reporting the use of social media by migrants and/or ethnic minority groups in relation to COVID-19.

Data: extraction We extracted data on key outcomes, study design, country, population under study and sample size.

Results: 1849 unique records were screened, and 21 data sources were included, including populations in the UK, USA, China, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey. We found evidence of consistent use of a range of social media platforms for COVID-19 information in some migrant and ethnic minority populations (including WeChat, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube), which may stem from difficulty in accessing COVID-19 information in their native languages or from trusted sources. Some evidence suggested circulating misinformation and social media use may be associated with lower participation in preventative health measures, including vaccine intent and uptake, findings which are likely relevant to multiple population groups.

Conclusions: Social media platforms are an important source of information about COVID-19 for some migrant and ethnic minority populations. Urgent actions and further research are now needed to better understand effective approaches to tackling circulating misinformation, and to seize on opportunities to better use social media platforms to support public health communication and improve vaccine uptake.

Registration: This study has been registered with PROSPERO (CRD42021259190).

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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