2012 In Review: Social Media In Cardiology 5

For a whole variety of reasons most cardiologists are not really comfortable diving into social media. For some reason they’re more comfortable remaining poolside, reading Braunwald or the latest mini JACC or Circulation than writing a blog or interacting with each other or their patients on Facebook or Twitter. Most cardiologists who do get their feet wet send out a few isolated tweets or posts and then disappear into the great digital void. So here’s a special shout out to a few brave cardiologists who are at least making an effort (feel free to add to this list in the comments section):

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Cardiologists Chris Cannon and Herb Aronow,  and cardiology fellow Michael Katz, regularly tweet about cardiology. Some big names like Harlan Krumholz and Bob Harrington are sporadic tweeters, providing behind the scene glimpses at events like a PCORI meeting or an ACC Board of Governors meeting. Electrophysiologist John Mandrola didn’t just get his feet wet but took a big belly dive into the social media pool, actively tweeting, blogging on his own and over at that other cardiology website, and contributing to newspapers and big sites like KevinMD. Eric Topol is a prolific tweeter, but he rarely seems interested in cardiology these days.

Jay Schloss deserves special mention for live-tweeting a closed Riata symposium and then keeping CardioBrief readers fully informed about each major development of this important case as it slowly unfolded this past year. Westby Fisher is the great grandfather of all cardiologists in the blogosphere and twitterverse, though lately he’s pulled back a bit, foolishly deciding that his medical practice and family life are somehow more important than his social media standing.

Finally, though he’s not a cardiologist, Lancet editor Richard Horton deserves special mention. He took to Twitter like a duck to water, though not everyone was so pleased by all his preening. As I wrote earlier this year, it was impossible not to be fascinated by the occasional glimpses he provided of the dark underside of medical publishing. He’s toned this down a lot lately, but on occasion he still has some amusing comments on the rivalry (real or imagined?) between his journal and the New England Journal of Medicine. But if you’re not interested in the politcs of the World Health Organization or the British medical establishment you may not want to follow him these days.

Late entries:

 

 

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Scientific Statement Examines Role Of Social Media In Fighting Childhood Obesity 1

Social media may become an important weapon in the battle against childhood obesity, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in Circulation. However, the statement acknowledges that the evidence so far from published social-media intervention studies has been “mixed” and that social media is also associated with troublesome drawbacks.

The statement delivers an overview of recent research in the role of social networks in health and obesity, and it reviews intervention strategies that employ various forms of social media. Because children are increasingly drawn to it, social media represents “natural points for intervention,” but the statement cautions that “identifying and measuring outcomes would be difficult.”

“Teenagers are texting and using Facebook and other social media as their primary communication with their peers, and we need to find out what factors can be incorporated into social media that will increase the effectiveness of these interventions to initiate and maintain weight loss in kids and adolescents,” said Jennifer S. Li, the chair of the writing group, in an AHA press release.

As an example of the delicate balance required in this area, the statement notes that children prefer texting over traditional paper diaries, but it also warns that social media plays a role in cyber bullying, privacy issues, sexting, and internet addiction. “Doctors need to understand digital technology better so that they can offer guidance to patients and their families on avoiding such issues, and will be aware of any such problems that occur,” said Li.

“The studies we looked at suggest that more parental involvement and more interaction with counselors and peers was associated with greater success rates for overweight children and teens who participated in an online intervention,” said Li. But the statement also acknowledges that the results of the few randomized trials of internet-based obesity interventions have been “mixed.”
Click here to read the AHA press release…

YouTube, NEJM, Whitney Houston, and Alpha Male Monkeys 3

Take a close look at this screenshot from YouTube (click to expand):

  • Jim Ware, the legendary New England Journal of Medicine biostatistician: 8 views.
  • Jerome Kassirer, Marcia Angell, and Arnold Relman, former NEJM editors: 36, 28, and 257 views.
  • Whitney Elizabeth Houston Funeral Service: 994,920 views. (And how many more Whitney Houston videos do you think are out there?)
  • Alpha Male Monkey attacks man: 2,135,280 views.

Draw your own conclusions. Here’s just one from me: we need to figure out how we can use social media better than we do now.