RESOURCE: Trends in Twitter Use by Physicians at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, 2010 and 2011
Purpose: Social media channels such as Twitter are gaining
increasing acceptance as mechanisms for instantaneous scien-
tiﬁc dialogue. Professional medical societies such as ASCO are
using social media to expand the reach of scientiﬁc communica-
tions at and around their scientiﬁc meetings. This article exam-
ines the how Twitter use by oncologists expanded at the ASCO
Annual Meetings from 2010 to 2011.
Methods: In both years, tweets that were speciﬁcally gener-
ated by physicians and that incorporated the ofﬁcial meeting
hashtag were harvested from the public domain, and a discourse
analysis was performed by three independent raters. Follow-up
surveys were conducted to assess physician attitudes toward
Twitter and its potential role in clinical practice.
Results: A combined total of 12,644 tweets were analyzed for
2010 and 2011. Although the number of physicians authoring
tweets was small (14 in 2010, 34 in 2011), this group generated
nearly 29% of the total meeting dialogue examined in this analysis in
2010 and 23% in 2011. Physicians used Twitter for reporting clinical
news from scientiﬁc sessions, for discussions of treatment issues,
for promotion, and to provide social commentary. The tangible im-
pact of Twitter discussions on clinical practice remains unclear.
Conclusion: Despite the 140-character limit, Twitter was suc-
cessfully used by physicians at the 2010 and 2011 ASCO Annual
Meetings to engage in clinical discussions, whether or not an author
was on site as a live attendee. Twitter usage grew signiﬁcantly from
2010 to 2011. Professional societies should monitor these phe-
nomena to enhance annual meeting attendee user experience.