Engagement of common pediatric urologic conditions on social media

Published:December 11, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpurol.2021.12.003

      Summary

      Introduction

      As social media use continues to increase, parents and caregivers report using social media platforms as a source of health information. However, there are minimal regulations for social media content and health misinformation has been shared for various medical issues and urologic conditions. While internet content related to pediatric urology has been previously described, social media engagement for various pediatric urologic conditions have yet to be described.

      Objective

      To evaluate the evidence supporting articles engaged on social media that are related to common pediatric urologic conditions.

      Study design

      A social media analysis tool was used to identify articles engaged through Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and Pinterest between July 2020-2021. The top 5 articles related to toilet training, circumcision, cryptorchidism, testicular torsion, and hypospadias were identified. Article citations were reviewed and classified by Oxford levels of evidence. The content of each article was then reviewed and compared against supporting evidence on an independent literature search. Statistical analysis was completed with descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U, Wilcoxon signed rank, and bivariate correlation.

      Results

      Of the 25 articles reviewed, 8 (32%) were affiliated with medical journals, hospitals, or academic institutions and 17 (68%) were on non-affiliated websites with advertisements. There was greater social media engagement for articles related to toilet training and circumcision than testicular torsion, hypospadias, and cryptorchidism. No articles cited level 1 evidence and 32% of articles cited no evidence. Literature search for article content demonstrated a discrepancy between the level of evidence cited by articles compared to the evidence available in the literature to support article content. There was greater social media engagement for articles with no cited or supporting evidence and those not affiliated with medical journals, hospitals, or academic institutions.

      Discussion

      The findings in this study are consistent with trends reported for other urologic conditions, including genitourinary malignancy, female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, nephrolithiasis, and sexual function. Parents without a medical background may have difficulty identifying whether articles shared on social media can be a reliable resource for health information. It is important to understand how information related to pediatric urologic conditions is engaged on social media so that misinformation can be addressed in clinical, online, and regulatory settings.

      Conclusion

      There was greater social media engagement for articles with no cited or supporting evidence and those not affiliated with medical journals, hospitals, or academic institutions.

      Keywords

      Abbreviations:

      HONCode (Health on the Net Foundation Code)
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