Twitter as a Mechanism of Knowledge Translation in Health Professions Education: An Exploratory Content Analysis

Aliki Thomas
André Bussières
Catherine M. Giroux
Conchita Saldanha
Lauren A. Maggio
Soort article
Original Research
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Introduction: Social media may facilitate knowledge sharing within health professions education (HPE), but whether and how it is used as a mechanism of knowledge translation (KT) is not understood. This exploratory study aimed to ascertain what content has been shared on Twitter using #MedEd and how it is used as a mechanism of KT.

Methods: Symplur was used to identify all tweets tagged with #MedEd between March 2021 – March 2022. A directed content analysis and multiple cycles of coding were employed. 18,000 tweets were identified, of which 478 were included. Studies sharing high quality HPE information; relating to undergraduate, postgraduate, or continuing education; referring to an evidence source; and posted in English or French were included.

Results: Diverse content was shared using #MedEd, including original tweets, links to peer-reviewed articles, and visual media. Tweets shared information about new educational approaches; system, clinical, or educational research outcomes; and measurement tools. #MedEd appears to be a mechanism of diffusion (n = 296 tweets) and dissemination (n = 164 tweets). It is less frequently used for knowledge exchange (n = 13 tweets) and knowledge synthesis (n = 5 tweets). No tweets demonstrated the ethically sound application of knowledge.

Discussion: It is challenging to determine whether and how #MedEd is used to promote the uptake of knowledge into HPE or if it is even possible for Twitter to serve these purposes. Further studies exploring how health professions educators use the knowledge gained from Twitter to inform their educational or clinical practices are recommended.


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