Social media and palliative medicine: An opportunity for community and professional engagement

This week, Dr Amara Nwosu, Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool (MCPCIL), University of Liverpool, UK, talks about the use of Twitter in end of life care.

 

I find technology fascinating.

Dr Amara Nwosu

Dr Amara Nwosu

This interest has been present for a long time. As a child I remember coding graphics on my first computer (the ZX Spectrum) and building a radio from scratch (it was big, ugly and bulky but I loved it!).

I am captivated by anything that can be plugged in and/or switched on. Furthermore, I am keen to explore opportunities to incorporate technology into my clinical-academic life. Examples include my review of palliative care smartphone apps,1 the ‘MyPal’ podcast (a podcast about technology, innovation and palliative care)2 and my PhD research (a study which involved the use of bioelectrical impedance analysis to evaluate hydration in advanced cancer).3 4

Social media is another of my interests. Social media has become commonplace in society; platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube continue to grow in prevalence and influence.5 Twitter (a social media micro-blogging service), since its creation in 2006 has amassed 302 million monthly active users (who send approximately 500 million tweets per day). I was interested to use Twitter to evaluate how palliative care issues are discussed on social media.

My article entitled ‘Social media and palliative medicine: a retrospective 2-year analysis of global Twitter data to evaluate the use of technology to communicate about issues at the end of life’ was published in BMJ Palliative & Supportive Care. (See link below). The aim of this study was to determine the frequency, sentiment and trend of Twitter ‘tweets’ containing palliative care related hashtags (for example, #palliative) and/or phrases sent by users over a two-year period. TopsyPro, a social media analytics tool, was used to conduct the analysis. TopsyPro provides several metrics about tweets, such as the volume, frequency, the overall tone (sentiment) and change in use over time (acceleration). In total, 13 palliative search terms were identified and analysed.

The analysis revealed that over a two-year period (2011–2013) the discussion of palliative care on Twitter was frequent (683.5K tweets) and increasing (a rise of 62.3% over the two years). The majority of tweets were positive about palliative care, demonstrated by a sentiment score of 89% (meaning that 89% of tweets were more positive than all other tweets sent on Twitter during this period).

Overall this study demonstrates that a lot of discussion about palliative care is taking place on Twitter, and the majority of this is positive. Consequently, social media presents a novel opportunity for engagement and on-going dialogue with public and professional groups about palliative care.

Read the full article…
This post relates to a longer article, ‘Social media and palliative medicine: a retrospective 2-year analysis of global Twitter data to evaluate the use of technology to communicate about issues at the end of life’ by Nwosu AC, Debattista M, Rooney C, et al published in BMJ supportive & palliative care 2015;5(2):207-12. You can view the abstract free of charge; the full text article is available at a charge or on subscription to the journal.

References

  1. Nwosu AC, Mason S. Palliative medicine and smartphones: an opportunity for innovation? BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care 2012;2(1):75-7.
  2. Nwosu AC. MyPal: a podcast about technology, innovation and research relevant to palliative care 2015. 
  3. Nwosu AC, Mayland CR, Mason SR, et al. Hydration in advanced cancer: cn bioelectrical impedance analysis improve the evidence base? A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2013;46(3):433-46.e6.
  4. Nwosu AC, Mayland CR, Mason S, et al. Patients want to be involved in end-of-life research, BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care 2013;3:(4):457.
  5. Taubert M, Watts G, Boland J. et al. Palliative social media. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. 2014;4(1):13-8.

Links

 

This entry was posted in RESEARCH, SOCIAL MEDIA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Social media and palliative medicine: An opportunity for community and professional engagement

  1. Pingback: MyPal podcast: Social media and palliative care – Episode 15 | Amara Nwosu

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