A scoping review on Internet-based interventions for vulnerable rural populations: A protocol

Lauren E. Robinson, Hannah Yeager, Carina M. Zelaya, Nancy Schoenberg

Research output: Other contribution


Research has been increasing on internet-based interventions designed to improve health. Despite this greater research attention, marginalized communities have not been a significant focus of most studies. This lack of attention represents a missed opportunity, as vulnerable populations tend to experience a high prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

To increase the potential use of such interventions, researchers must build on each others’ work. Thus, we aim to take stock of the state of internet-based interventions among one segment of marginalized populations--rural Appalachians. Researchers will analyze the evidence available in the peer-reviewed literature in order to synthesize and report the nature, scope, and characteristics of Internet-based intervention research in Appalachia. We are particularly interested in focusing on research conducted in central Appalachia (Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia), a region that maintains some of the most egregious health and economic disparities in the nation. Rural residents in the central Appalachian region maintain extremely high rates of suboptimal diet and sedentary behaviors, placing them at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Such adversity is exacerbated by and associated with inadequate community resources.

Despite such inadequate personal and community resources, use of personal technology is expanding in the region. Such increased access to technology offers new opportunities to compensate for sparse healthcare provider availability. Moreover, residents in the region express interest in and support for such interventions. We therefore seek to better understand the regional landscape of internet-based health interventions, aiming to establish their feasibility and assess the practicality of implementing evidence-based internet-based interventions in this population.

Methods and Analysis
The researchers will conduct a scoping review to examine the literature on Internet-based interventions in Appalachia, with a particular emphasis on Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia. A scoping review was chosen due to its systematic methodological approach. The researchers will follow a systematic approach to track data on a given topic and establish central ideas, theories, sources and information gaps across the peer-reviewed literature. We will use the methodological framework developed by Arksey and O’Malley and expanded upon by Levac et al. This method will include (A) identifying and clearly defining the research question; (B) searching and identifying relevant studies; (C) study selection; (D) charting the data both quantitatively and thematically; and (E) summarizing and reporting the results.

Strengths and Limitations of this Study
● Grey literature will not be examined in this scoping review.
● Researchers will only analyze internet-based interventions literature that pertains to the Appalachian region, while particularly highlighting Internet-based interventions in central Appalachian.

Author Contributions
The senior researcher formulated the premise for this scoping review, with help from two junior researchers and one health sciences librarian. The health sciences librarian and one junior researcher designed and drafted the protocol, with input from the senior researcher and other junior researcher on identifying the research question and study selection process. The health sciences librarian built and conducted the search strategy, as well as developed the data management strategy. All authors made substantive intellectual contributions to the development of this protocol, and all have read and approved the manuscript.
Original languageAmerican English
TypeProtocol Registry
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Aug 27 2020


  • eHealth
  • Appalachia
  • Scoping Review
  • Protocol
  • mobile apps
  • Smartphones


Dive into the research topics of 'A scoping review on Internet-based interventions for vulnerable rural populations: A protocol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this