2022: Two-year Impact Factor: 4.4
Scopus Journal Metrics
CiteScore (2022): 5.3
SJR(2022): 0.78
Open Access

Health Promot Perspect. 2022;12(4): 372-380.
doi: 10.34172/hpp.2022.49
PMID: 36852198
PMCID: PMC9958238
Scopus ID: 85149111930
  Abstract View: 561
  PDF Download: 298
  Full Text View: 47

Original Article

Unravelling the truth: Examining the evidence for health-related claims made by naturopathic influencers on social media – a retrospective analysis

Van Nguyen 1 ORCID logo, Luke Testa 1* ORCID logo, Andrea L Smith 2, Louise A. Ellis 1, Adam G. Dunn 3, Jeffrey Braithwaite 1, Mitchell Sarkies 1

1 Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
2 The Daffodil Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
3 Biomedical Informatics and Digital Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
*Corresponding Author: Corresponding Author: Luke Testa, Email: , Email: luke.testa@mq.edu.au


Background: Social media platforms are frequently used by the general public to access health information, including information relating to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The aim of this study was to measure how often naturopathic influencers make evidence-informed recommendations on Instagram, and to examine associations between the level of evidence available or presented, and user engagement.

Methods: A retrospective observational study using quantitative content analysis on health-related claims made by naturopathic influencers with 30000 or more followers on Instagram was conducted. Linear regression was used to measure the association between health-related posts and the number of Likes, and Comments.

Results: A total of 494 health claims were extracted from eight Instagram accounts, of which 242 (49.0%) were supported by evidence and 34 (6.9%) included a link to evidence supporting the claim. Three naturopathic influencers did not provide any evidence to support the health claims they made on Instagram. Posts with links to evidence had fewer Likes (B=-1343.9, 95% CI=-2424.4 to -263.4, X=-0.1, P=0.02) and fewer Comments (B=-82.0, 95% CI=-145.9 to -18.2, X=-0.2, P=0.01), compared to posts without links to evidence. The most common areas of health were claims relating to ‘women’s health’ (n=94; 19.0%), and ‘hair, nail and skin’ (n=74; 15.0%).

Conclusion: This study is one of the first to look at the evidence available to support health-related claims by naturopathic influencers on Instagram. Our findings indicate that around half of Instagram posts from popular naturopathic influencers with health claims are supported by high-quality evidence.

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Submitted: 01 Nov 2022
Revision: 13 Dec 2022
Accepted: 14 Dec 2022
ePublished: 31 Dec 2022
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