PURPOSE: Social media sites such as Twitter can significantly enhance education and advocacy efforts. A "Twitter chat" is an online, real-time discussion that occurs on Twitter around a specific hashtag. These chats are fast moving, open to all, and scheduled in advance with pre-planned topics of discussion. In 2013, the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) launched a Twitter chat using the hashtag #pulmcc to educate and advocate for topics related to pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. METHOD(S): To assess the reach of these chats, we analyzed the metrics of each of the #pulmcc Twitter chats using Symplur analytics, and compared data on the number of participants, tweets, and the impressions (or views) of the hashtag during the chat. RESULT(S): Since 12/19/13, there have been 12 #pulmcc Twitter chats; 6 have been on Critical Care related topics (End-of-life, ICU resource utilitization, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Sepsis, Ultrasound, and Big data), 4 on Pulmonary/Sleep related topics (Asthma, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Sarcoidosis, and Obstructive sleep apnea), and 2 conducted during the CHEST annual meeting on more general topics (Live-Tweeting Conferences, and Impact of disease on patients and families). During these one-hour Twitter chats there were a total of 4212 tweets by 418 participants resulting in 9,361,519 impressions. 75 of these participants participated in 2 or more #pulmcc Twitter chats. When comparing the number of participants, tweets and impressions between the Critical Care Twitter chats, the Pulmonary/Sleep Twitter chats, and the more general topics conducted during the CHEST annual meeting, we found that there were similar numbers of participants and tweets between the 3 different types of Twitter chats. Critical Care Twitter chats had 52 +/- 17 participants and 422 +/- 57 tweets, compared to 40 +/- 10 participants and 272 +/- 108 tweets in the Pulmonary/Sleep Twitter chats, and 56 +/- 1 participants and 379 +/- 98 tweets in the CHEST meeting Twitter chats (p=0.33 and p=0.28 respectively). However, there were significantly more repeat participants in the Critical Care chats (35% +/- 4%) compared to the Pulmonary/Sleep chats and more general chats (23% +/- 6% and 26% +/- 5% respectively, p=0.01). There was also a significantly greater reach of the #pulmcc hashtag during the more general Twitter chats conducted at the CHEST annual meeting with 1,596,013 +/- 126,472 impressions at these chats, compared to 739,203 +/- 73,109 impressions during the Critical Care Twitter chats and 621,965+/- 123,933 impressions in the Pulmonary/Sleep chats (p=0.003). CONCLUSION(S): Twitter chats can be a powerful tool for the widespread engagement of a medical audience. Hosting Twitter chats during annual meetings may significantly improve the reach of that hashtag and thus the content of that chat by drawing casual users into these live events.
Carroll, C., Ramachandran, P., & Bruno, K. (2016). A #Pulmcc Twitter Chat to Educate and Advocate for Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep. Chest, 150(4), 974A. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2016.08.1079