Deborah S Keller, MS, MD1,3, Richard R Brady, FRCS, MD2, Manish Chand, FRCS, PhD3. 1Columbia University Medical Center, 2Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trusts, 3University College London Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trusts
Background: Social media (SoMe) uniquely allows international collaboration, with immediacy and ease of access and communication. In areas where surgical management is contentious, this could be a valuable tool to frame the current state, propose best practices, and possibly guide management in a rapid, cost-effective, global scale. Our goal was to determine the ability to use Twitter – a SoMe platform- as an alternative surgical research tool.
Methods: Twitter was used to host an online poll on a pre-selected controversial topic with no current consensus guidelines- pathological complete response in rectal cancer. An influential colorectal surgeon published the survey “T3N1 Rectal Cancer undergoes a complete response” on two separate occasions. Both polls were open for duration of three days. Two methodologies were tested to increase exposure and direct towards relevant participants: first, tagging several worldwide experts, then using the well-established hashtag #colorectalsurgery and publishing during an international surgical conference. The main outcome measure was the feasibility, validity, reproducibility, and methods to further participation of a Twitter survey.
Results: The tweet polls were posted three weeks apart. There was no cost and the time required for the process was three minutes, demonstrating the feasibility. Providing three closed options to select from facilitated validity. The poll’s anonymity limited knowledge of the participant’s qualifications, but public comments and “retweets” came from surgeons with experience ranging from trainee to department chair. A robust volume of respondents was observed. The 1st post received 169 votes, 14 “likes”, 13 “retweets”, and 18 comments from a diverse international group (9 countries). All tagged members participated in the forum. The 2nd received 125 votes, 13 “likes”, 14 “retweets”, and 3 comments. The results were reproducible, with the majority favoring 1 option on both occasions (69% and 75%, respectively; p=0.4312). Treatment recommendations, their rationale, and open questions were identified in the thread.
Conclusions: SoMe can be used as a research tool, with valid, reproducible, and representative survey results. While exposure was comparable across the two methods, tagging specific members guided experts to provide more opinions than using conference and specialty hashtags. This could expand awareness, education, and possibly affect management in a transparent, cost-effective method. The anonymous nature of respondents limited the ability to make conclusions, but interest and opinion leaders for further study can be easily identified. This demonstrates the potential for SoMe to facilitate international collaborative research.
Presented at the SAGES 2017 Annual Meeting in Houston, TX.
Abstract ID: 86182
Program Number: P512
Presentation Session: iPoster Session (Non CME)
Presentation Type: Poster