Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Healthcare social media (#HCSM): A new approach to studying and promoting health behavior

Thursday, 31 Aug

17:00 – 18:00

Aula C


Patients are increasingly using social media to discuss healthy and unhealthy behavior, to participate in online health communities, and to learn about their health conditions. This phenomenon is part of an emerging field referred to as healthcare social media. That patients are using social media to talk about and learn about their health provides unprecedented opportunities for both observational and intervention research in health psychology.

Observational studies using social media data can help us understand health-related attitudes and behaviors more efficiently and inexpensively than traditional survey-based methodologies. Intervention researchers can use social media platforms as a delivery modality for many behavioral interventions which could reduce patient burden and increase reach.

Dr. Pagoto will present some of her research using social media to understand and intervene upon health behaviors. Topics to be addressed include adaptation of intervention protocols for social media delivery, participant engagement, and ethical issues. Future directions in healthcare social media research will be discussed.


Dr. Pagoto is a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of the UMass Center for mHealth and Social Media at the UMass Medical School. She is an expert in behavioral treatments for obesity and cancer prevention, both via her research and clinically. Her obesity research has focused on leveraging technology to increase the impact and reduce the cost of delivering health behavior interventions. Her cancer prevention work has focused on using social media to disseminate health messages to individuals at risk and impacting health policy. She has 4 federally funded studies on these topics. She has had federal funding for her program of research for 14 years and has published 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Pagoto is also co-chair of the Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus Initiative, a national initiative promoting skin cancer prevention on college campuses. She has received several awards for her work including the UMass Medical School Women in Science and Health Achievement Award in 2015, The Obesity Society Pioneer in mHealth/eHealth Award in 2014, Society of Behavioral Medicine Early Career/Young Investigator Award in 2006, and the Western Michigan University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011. Devoted to science communication she is a frequent contributor to US News and World Report, Psychology Today, and Her work has been featured in major news outlets including CNN, NPR, NBC News, ABC News, and Good Morning America.