Twitter useful for vaccine education

FDA will regulate certain apps as medical devices
FDA will regulate certain apps as medical devices

HealthDay News -- Analysis of Twitter posts can help explain patient knowledge and inform directions for educational vaccination campaigns, according to a brief report.

"News and health organizations received mostly positive attention in comparison with political or advocacy groups, indicating users are favorably viewing established sources in their health-information seeking," Brad Love, PhD, from the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues reported in the American Journal of Infection Control.

They conducted a content analysis of Twitter posts about vaccinations, documenting sources, tone and medical accuracy. In a set of 6,827 tweets, professional sources were shared most and treated positively. Most of the shared medical content was substantiated (two-thirds). One-third of messages were positive.

This contrasts with research on vaccine information posted to You-Tube, where nearly half of vaccine-related content was ambivalent and conflicted with scientific literature.

"In this sample, it appears that Twitter users share mostly reputable information and sources while actively mobilizing others to seek reliable health information. Results of the snapshot can help explain what social media content patients consume and respond to, as well as help determine directions for educational campaigns."

Clinicians must be prepared to answer patient concerns in the clinical environment based on information they have received from various social media sources, Love and colleagues emphasized.

They should also be prepared to use social media to counteract false impressions and to "use these channels for patient education to address common myths," the researchers added.


References

  1. Love B et al. Am J Infect Control. 2013; 41(6):568-570.
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