To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Understanding the spread of prevention and cessation messages on social media for substance use in youth

Soumik Mandal (School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Chirag Shah (Information School, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
Stephanie Peña-Alves (Sociology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Michael L. Hecht (REAL Prevention, Clifton, New Jersey, USA)
Shannon D. Glenn (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Anne E. Ray (College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)
Kathryn Greene (Communication, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 7 December 2020

Issue publication date: 23 February 2021




Engagement is a critical metric to the effectiveness of online health messages. This paper explores how people engage in youth-generated prevention messages in social media.


The data sample consisted of engagement measures of 82 youth-generated messages hosted in a social media channel and a follow-up survey on content creators' motivation for promoting their messages and their dissemination strategies. A comparative analysis of engagement metrics along with qualitative analysis of the message types was performed.


Two types of messages were considered: stop messages and prevent messages. Our analyses found that people interacted with stop messages on social media more frequently than prevent messages. On analyzing the youth's motivation and promotion strategies, no significant difference was observed between stop message creators and prevent message creators.

Social implications

This work has implications for programs promoting prevention and health information in social media.


This is the first study in social media-based prevention programs the authors are aware of that differentiated between the strategies of youth-produced prevention messages.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the 4-H clubs and their members, particularly Rachel E. Lyons of 4-H and Rutgers University.Funding: Supported by NIDA/NIH (R21DA027146, R41DA039595, R42DA039595) grant funding.


Mandal, S., Shah, C., Peña-Alves, S., Hecht, M.L., Glenn, S.D., Ray, A.E. and Greene, K. (2021), "Understanding the spread of prevention and cessation messages on social media for substance use in youth", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 73 No. 2, pp. 240-253.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited