"Half-baked research": MD degree does not teach doctors how to tweet scientific meetings

MD degree does not teach doctors how to tweet scientific meetings, reported Reuters (http://buff.ly/1xAOPkO): A study assessed the accuracy of tweets posted by physicians at a medical conference and concluded "it is very easy to misunderstand tone and brevity, so there are dangers here."

First the study authors asked speakers at the meeting to identify key messages for their presentations. Then, they asked the speakers to review tweets posted during their talks to see how accurately these points were communicated.

Duty calls. Image source: Xkcd.com, Creative Commons license.

14 speakers participated in the experiment, and 13 had at least one tweet posted about their presentations. There were only 37 tweets altogether! Editor's note: This seems incredibly low. Allergy/Immunology conferences such as AAAAI and ACAAI generate thousands of tweets, sometimes more than 30-50 for each talk.

The speakers found 16 of the tweets accurately reflected their findings, while an additional 16 posts were partially accurate. In 3 instances, the tweets misrepresented key points. In 2 cases, the speakers were uncertain about the accuracy.

It's possible that the inaccurate tweets indicate that the speakers didn't do a good job of explaining their research. And it's also possible that the doctors listening to presentations didn't use the best language to tweet results.

To be sure, the sample size was quite small. This is the biggest limitation of the study and it qualifies it as what we sometimes call "half-baked research."

This statement also looked inaccurate in the Reuters report: "Asked about the impact of social media on medical education, 82 percent of survey participants said they didn't access websites for medical journals, research articles or major gastroenterology professional organizations." And indeed, it was inaccurate: 82% of GI's didn’t access social media sites of professional organizations, not their main websites.

We all agree on this though: Many physicians prefer to limit use of social media to their personal lives.

Here is an example how to use Twitter when attending a scientific conference:

Here is an approach I suggested a few years ago:

Cycle of Patient Education (click here to enlarge the image):

Cycle of Online Information and Physician Education (click here to enlarge the image):

"And it’s free."


MD degree may not teach doctors how to tweet | Reuters http://buff.ly/1xAOPkO
Are you a SCEPTIC? SoCial mEdia Precision & uTility In Conferences - Emergency Medicine Journal http://buff.ly/1vQCq6j, and bit.ly/1tii1pz Digestive and Liver Disease

Comments from Twitter:

re: SCEPTIC? SoCial mEdia Precision & uTility In Conferences -- Skeptical Scalpel @Skepticscalpel: I've seen some forced acronyms in my time, but that one wins the prize.

@DrVes re: acronym, agree. the whole research endeavor left more to be desired...

Skeptical Scalpel @Skepticscalpel: I liked it because it supported my bias, but really--37 tweets?

Michael Katz @MGKatz036: Pls remember this as I tweet from @Boston_AF! MT @DrVes: MD does not teach doctors how to tweet scientific meetings buff.ly/1xzpiXF

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