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Division of Internal Medicine, University of Calgary, 7510 36 Avenue Northwest, Calgary, Alberta T3B1V3, Canada
It is with great interest that we read the paper by Pawar et al. (1) highlighting the relative absence of academic cardiologists on Twitter. With nearly half a million health care professionals on various social media sites, including Twitter, it raises the question of why cardiologists are hesitant to join the masses. From the perspective of this junior trainee, one of the challenges is the absence of objective evidence that supports the use of Twitter as an educational intervention. In Table 1, unanswered research questions are identified that future studies should bolster the evidence behind Twitter as a medical education tool.
Few studies have aimed to examine how Twitter can influence the general public, and none have studied this factor from the perspective of cardiology. Outside of the field of cardiology, there is some evidence that participating in group chats on Twitter (Twitter chats) can improve perceived knowledge from breast cancer participants and has empowered several individuals to make informed health care decisions (2). From a cardiovascular perspective, it would be of great interest to study whether similar Twitter support groups could be introduced for patients with heart failure, post–myocardial infarction, or dyslipidemia. Due to the relative low cost of such an educational intervention, the ability to even modestly prevent subsequent complications would be monumental. However, to date, such studies are lacking.
In examining the use of Twitter for cardiovascular medical education, several small-scale studies have used Twitter as an adjunct educational tool, such as an electrocardiogram teaching initiative (3). In addition, over the past year, 2 cardiovascular Twitter journal clubs have emerged (#OutcomesJC and #HeartJC). It is important to note that no head-to-head comparisons have been conducted between traditional educational activities and novel Twitter-based initiatives. It is abundantly clear that how trainees learn about medicine and cardiology is changing. The days of burning the midnight oil over a copy of Harrison’s or Braunwald’s have been replaced with UpToDate, electronic flashcards, and Twitter. From this we can extrapolate that medical education has moved into the digital era, in which trainees prefer that their educational resources be mobile and easily accessible. For these reasons, Twitter is becoming a popular educational tool among trainees.
Finally, massive amounts of data are created on Twitter each day that are in the public domain. Using these data, researchers have an opportunity to explore perceptions of users on any range of cardiovascular topics. This information can then be used to create educational initiatives to target perceived misinformation or deficits.
In conclusion, although Twitter is certainly a promising avenue for cardiovascular research and education, there is clearly a need for further research. As with any form of education, the use of Twitter may be beneficial only to a select group with particular learning style preferences. Before supporting the mass uptake of Twitter as a new educational tool, I would encourage further research into its use.
Please note: Dr. Gouda has reported that he has no relationships relevant to the contents of this paper to disclose. The author thanks Dr. Justin Ezekowitz for his mentorship and critical appraisal of the manuscript.
- 2018 American College of Cardiology Foundation
- Pawar S.,
- Siddiqui G.,
- Desai N.R.,
- Ahmad T.
- Liu S.S.,
- Zakaria S.,
- Vaidya D.,
- Srivastava M.C.