Those of you who are interested in healthcare social media must have given some thought to the questions posed by research regarding healthcare social media.
- What happens when we use traditional research methods to study Healthcare Social Media ?
- Do we publish the results according to the principles of traditional scientific journals?
- Do we, given the subject, avoid paid subscriber-only journals ?
An article* from researchers at U Penn Medical School and which was just published in PubMed demonstrates some of the issues around the above questions.
The authors' purpose is to analyze the use of Twitter on the topic of resuscitation and cardiac arrest. 62000 tweets were examined on the basis of a series of keywords relating to cardiac arrest and resuscitation. Author profiles, retweets, time of day, were studied.
The findings demonstrate the difficulty of doing research on tweets. Here are three key results - the issue being that this research was observational and you can only observe the things Twitter allows us to measure.
- Only 25% of the examined tweets included specific information on the topic - a fact which merits further analysis...75% of tweets containing keywords do not have information on the topic???
- 13% of tweets were retweeted...meaning that we can't count on retweeting to diffuse a message.
- Users with more than 15 resuscitation-specific tweets tended to have 1787 followers (which is a high average number).
The conclusion of the abstract shows the promise of healthcare social media.
Twitter can be filtered to identify public knowledge and information seeking and sharing about cardiac arrest. To better engage via social media, healthcare providers can distill tweets by user, content, temporal trends, and message dissemination. Further understanding of information shared by the public in this forum could suggest new approaches for improving resuscitation related education.
The tweets were published in April-May, 2011....almost a year and a half ago...which is a huge period on Twitter.
The article is published in a subscriber-only journal, meaning that only the abstract is visible.
I would submit that researchers should come up with new Social Media methodology!
*Resuscitation. 2012 Oct 26. pii: S0300-9572(12)00871-4. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2012.10.017. [Epub ahead of print] Decoding Twitter: Surveillance and Trends for Cardiac Arrest and Resuscitation Communication. Bosley JC, Zhao NW, Hill S, Shofer FS, Asch DA, Becker LB, Merchant RM.Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.