Article Text

Utilizing social media for cardiovascular education
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  1. Christina Mansour1,
  2. Nooshin Beygui2,
  3. Mamas A Mamas3,
  4. Purvi J Parwani4
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego, California, USA
  2. 2 College of Medicine, Central Michigan University College of Medicine, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA
  3. 3 Keele Cardiovascular Research Institute, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  4. 4 Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Purvi J Parwani, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, USA; drpurviparwani{at}gmail.com

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Introduction

The use of social media (SoMe) has grown exponentially over the past few years and is ubiquitous in our society and everyday interactions, both socially and professionally.1 Cardiovascular (CV) professionals across the globe use SoMe in different ways, as a means for education, networking and research and as a social platform.2

Basics of SoMe

Different SoMe platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok offer a variety of unique tools. Facebook captures a vast audience, supporting communication by personal blogging and sharing of content in the form of images and videos. Instagram was first created as an online photo-sharing application, although more recently has evolved to create ‘reels’, which are short videos. Similarly, TikTok is another platform whose sole content is videos. Twitter is a platform that uses a microblogging interphase that provides users the ability to publish messages of up to 280 characters as well as embed images and videos into tweets. Twitter is the most popular platform within the CV community with its concise microblogging using ‘hashtag’, providing ease in sharing content and networking. #CardioTwitter is the network consisting of the CV Twitter community and makes it easier to find content related to CV education or other content relevant to the CV community.2 Medical professionals are increasingly leveraging these visually appealing platforms for educational purposes.

Utility of SoMe in CV education

Asynchronous education and real-time communication

There are limited opportunities in traditional classroom learning for trainees given clinical responsibilities and duty-hour restriction. Over the past decade, asynchronous learning not bound by location or time has gained popularity due to technological advances. Advanced modes of communication have allowed greater access to learning materials (eg, free open access medical education, online courses, podcasts, online textbooks, case-based learning).3 Passive traditional methods of teaching such as lectures and reading have demonstrated low retention rates. Higher retention learning occurs in active settings of group discussions, hands-on simulations and by teaching others. SoMe platforms like Twitter facilitate meaningful interactions between the educator and the reader and enable clarification of concepts in real time across the globe. This provides an opportunity to facilitate knowledge dissemination and clinical application in a dynamic environment, facilitating complex case discussions in line with best available data from contemporary literature and best practice through guidelines. SoMe has increasingly become important during the COVID-19 pandemic for educational purposes, both in the rapid sharing of data and protocols at the start of the pandemic in view of the rapidly evolving evidence base, but also as a resource of educational content when physical meetings were replaced by virtual meetings, making content sharing easier.4

Rapid dissemination of knowledge

While national and international conferences and meetings provide educational opportunities, these are limited to a small number of days each year. Such annualised educational activities are not fit for purpose in the digital arena in which we engage with each other daily across the globe. SoMe has opened unprecedented opportunities to allow for this information to be rapidly disseminated in real time, 24/7 and 365 days a year.

Bite-sized educational snippets

Digital platforms are an important avenue for offering bite-sized, visually appealing educational snippets that are clinically relevant and easy to grasp. Medical knowledge can be creatively delivered via tweets, infographics or video mediums. Medical journals have leveraged this successfully via sharing their content in tweet form. For instance, Heart BMJ Twitter account (@Heart_BMJ) reaches more than 42 000 followers with educational CV tweets including new articles and interesting images and provides their latest award-winning podcast episodes.

Access to the experts

SoMe as an educational tool allows instantaneous access to experts in the arena, authors of guidelines and journal articles, and clinical experts. Rather than educational content derived from one person on the podium, hundreds of people in a virtual arena are able to rapidly contribute to educational content synchronously. Even at cardiology meetings, content is static and unidirectional—delivered from the podium with little opportunity for interaction/discussion. In contrast, in SoMe discussion of scientific content is dynamic and evolves in real time and is subjected to instantaneous peer review by the community.

Information unification by hashtags

Hashtags are used as metatags that allow SoMe users to search for content of interest through simple search terms. In the cardiology sphere, hashtags are used to categorise information by different disease conditions, diagnostic modalities, research conferences, etc. Hashtags also help amplify voices on SoMe. One example is the #WIC (women in cardiology) hashtag which has been used to unify women in cardiology and address gender inequality in medicine. Hashtags also allow medical professionals to search for specific educational material, filtering their search to their specific interest (eg, #Radialfirst, #CVImaging, etc).5 6

Educational tools on SoMe

‘Tweetorials’

‘Tweetorials’ are tweets threaded together to provide educational materials in non-traditional formats to express complex ideas. They consist of concise, high-yield scientific or educational content with use of videos and images breaking down scientific data into more manageable bite-sized content that is readily accessible and digestible.

Images, videos and polls

Visual content in general is more popular on all SoMe platforms. This includes images and videos typically used to share CV cases. In this format, SoMe educators share complex cases as well as routine clinical conditions that can be challenging to manage. Such discussions are often facilitated by use of polls on Twitter.7 8

Online journal club and conference tweets

The traditional means of staying current in cardiology by means of journal subscriptions and attending conferences is at times infeasible. SoMe facilitates discussions between educators and authors around new literature published in journals or at conferences via online journal clubs and conference tweets to a wider audience. #cardioNerdsJC and #ASEJC are organised regularly on Twitter.9

Audio podcasts

Podcasts have become popular educational offerings in cardiology. Popular cardiology podcasts are included in the online supplemental table.

Supplemental material

Conclusion

SoMe has undoubtedly expanded from a ‘means to keep in touch with social circles’ to ‘having the potential to serve as an educational tool’ that is able to reach a global audience (figure 1). Twitter’s ability to adapt to a more engaging platform, with the inclusion of polls, visual posts and online journal clubs, exemplifies how SoMe platforms have grown and adapted for their medical usership. For the CV community, SoMe platforms offer unique opportunities for connection, collaboration and education to a global audience.

Figure 1

Representation of the many informative and interactive tools that social media (SoMe) has provided in advancing cardiovascular (CV) education.1–3 5–9

Ethics statements

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References

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary Data

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @drcmansour, @MMamas1973

  • Contributors CM and NB produced the first draft. MAM and PP edited it and made Substantial contributions to the conception of the work; and revised it critically for important intellectual content; PP responsible for the final approval of the version to be published.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.