Social Media and Pediatric Scoliosis: An Analysis of Patient and Surgeon Use.
Haeberle HS., Egger AC., Navarro SM., Cornaghie MM., Ramkumar PN., Goodwin RC., Mont MA.
INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this observational study was to investigate and analyze the social media presence of both patients and surgeons in relation to pediatric scoliosis. First, patient Instagram (Instagram, Inc., San Francisco, California) posts were evaluated for 1) media format; 2) timing in relation to surgery; 3) tone; 4) perspective; 5) content; and 6) subject reference. To analyze reciprocal engagement, the presence and activity of pediatric scoliosis surgeons at five major academic centers were subsequently analyzed on Instagram, Twitter (Twitter Inc., San Francisco, California), and LinkedIn (LinkedIn Corporation, Sunnyvale, California). MATERIALS AND METHODS: A search of public Instagram profiles was performed over a one-year period from February 2016 to February 2017. Posts related to pediatric scoliosis were selected for analysis using a hashtag search with 30 related terms. A total of 982 posts were retrieved, with 669 posts meeting the inclusion criteria. Each post was then evaluated for timing, tone, perspective, and content using a categorical scoring system. An additional analysis was performed using academic orthopaedic hospitals' websites, in which the names of scoliosis surgeons were found and searched for on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Their profiles were analyzed for level and length of activity, number of followers or connections, and references to clinical practice. RESULTS: A total of 669 posts related to scoliosis were analyzed, the majority of which were temporally related to non-operative (74.7%) or post-operative (21.8%) settings. Patients (33.3%), friends and family (34.4%), and professional organizations (23.8%) were the most active contributors. The vast majority of posts were positive in nature (88.9 %) and highlighted the patient experience (79.2%), specifically related to bracing (33.1%), activities of daily living (31.7%), and surgical site or x-rays (25.5%). Of the social media sites analyzed, surgeons were found to have the highest presence on LinkedIn (55% have accounts with a mean of 175 connections) compared to Instagram (8%, 57 followers) and Twitter (33%, 61 followers). Surgeons were also noted to have more information regarding their practice, training, and clinical skills on LinkedIn. CONCLUSIONS: An analysis of Instagram posts related to scoliosis showed that the majority were shared by patients in the non-operative period and overwhelmingly had a positive tone. The content of the posts focused mainly on brace wear, activities of daily living, and post-operative appearance or x-rays. This information provides further insight into what patients deem important regarding pediatric scoliosis care. Analysis of the social media presence of scoliosis surgeons showed that they have an underwhelming presence on Instagram and Twitter, but are more active on LinkedIn, a site geared more toward professional development and networking than other social media options.