Strengthening positive social pathways via digital social applications in individuals with social skills deficits: A scoping review

Asiyeh Salehi, Elham Salehi, Mahsa Mosadeghi-Nik, Sally Sargeant, Farhad Fatehi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Effective digital social capital interventions have great potential to establish trusted social pathways to access supportive services and to enable talking about issues contributing to distress. Aim: This review explores the digital social capital interventions used in individuals with social skills deficits, and the best social health outcomes achieved. Method: Four databases (PubMed, CINAHL, PsychINFO, and Web of Science) were used with no time limitation, and 33 papers were included. Results: A diverse range of digital social programs was used for social capital improvement based on individuals’ characteristics (e.g. age range and illnesses). Programs ranged from digitally-enhanced self-help or self-guided treatment (to enhance the self-efficacy of individuals), to group treatments and/or web-based caregiver support services. They comprised mobile social apps, video blogging, video-communication system/video-conferencing, and online social communication, to more advanced techniques such as virtual reality. All of these modalities were shown to be beneficial for improving the social health of individuals. Interventions targeted two aspects of social capital: (1) cognitive social capital, focusing on enhancing trust and control, self-efficacy on life. Some examples were cognitive behavioural therapy, and increasing the received and more importantly perceived social support. (2) structural social capital, focusing on individuals’ relationships with family/carers, friends, peers to other connections at the macro level, such as health care providers and their community as a whole. The two interconnected aspects of social capital play a role in decreasing fears of being judged by others, general fears in social interactions and interpersonal problems. Conclusion: Guided digital social support interventions result in open and flexible access to various resources through supportive social networks, for patients and their family members/carers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-787
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • digital social capital
  • Social capital
  • social networking
  • social support

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