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Junaid Amir Bhatti, Mona Kaleem, Ramya Swamy; Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Glaucoma in Social Media. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(8):2760.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Social media has been increasingly utilized by both patients and providers to receive and deliver medical information. The lack of regulation of posts pose a threat of misinformation, making monitoring social media platforms a necessity. In this project we performed a cross-sectional study surveying social media content regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and its usage for glaucoma.
Social media posts from Twitter and Facebook were analyzed using a systematic approach. Specific search queries with multiple hashtags were used to identify top posts over the past 10 years for popular CAM types. Descriptive and quantitative information were collected for each post, including account type, credibility, tone, among others. Data was collected using a standardized online form and was organized into spreadsheets which were used for further analysis.
Overall, the data showed most posts to be general discussion (42.9%), article presentation (21.2%), and promotional (14.7%). The majority of posts were by companies (40.4%), medical professionals (32.0%), and unaffiliated individuals (17.9%), with variation between CAM types.Most posts had no article references (61.5%), while fewer had non peer-reviewed (24.4%) and peer-reviewed (14.1%) articles cited. Posts with peer-reviewed articles were mainly by medical professionals (59.1%). Posts without citations were mainly by companies (42.7%).Ophthalmologists mostly had article presentation posts (50.0%). Companies mostly had either general discussion posts (46.0%) or promotional material (20.6%), with the majority not referencing articles (65.1%).Facebook had a higher proportion of medical professionals compared to Twitter (49.2% vs 19.8%). More articles were referenced in Twitter (46.2% vs 27.7%); however, Facebook had the higher portion of peer-reviewed articles (18.5% vs 11.0%).
Patients should be cautious about information they gain on social media as a lack of credibility and financial intentions make many posts, specifically promotional material from companies, potential sources of misinformation. Medical professionals have reliable posts with article citations, however, also tend to have a smaller social media engagement. The results of this study can help educate ophthalmologists and other eye care providers about the source and type of information being presented to their patients on CAM and can counsel their patients accordingly.
This is a 2021 ARVO Annual Meeting abstract.
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