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Am J Manag Care. 2017 Jul 1;23(7):e238-e244.

Twitter accounts followed by Congressional health staff.

Author information

1
University of Pennsylvania, 3641 Locust Walk -- 407, Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail: dgrande@wharton.upenn.edu.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Although health policy research should inform policy making, the communication gap between researchers and policy makers limits successful translation. Social media represents a new opportunity to connect researchers and policy makers. Our objective was to assess who Congressional health policy staff follow on a major social media platform.

STUDY DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study.

METHODS:

Our study measured Congressional health policy staff's use of Twitter and the types of individuals and organizations they follow. To focus on more influential Twitter accounts, we restricted our sample to those followed by at least 3 individual Congressional staff members.

RESULTS:

Of the 30,843 accounts followed by the 115 Congressional health policy staff, 1273 were potentially policy-related and followed by 3 or more staff. Of these, few were academically affiliated (2.4%) or explicitly health-related (5.6%) sites; many were general news media sources (50.9%) and political and governmental sources (36.4%). Health-focused accounts were frequently connected to the news media or government rather than academia. Top accounts followed (ie, highest quintile) were most likely to be national news organizations (odds ratio [OR], 5.88; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.75-19.7) and elected officials (OR, 8.22; 95% CI, 1.75-38.6) compared with advocacy and interest groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Health-related and academic sources are largely absent from the Twitter conversations with US Congressional health policy staff. Even within social media, traditional and political news media are important information intermediaries that researchers and journals should target to disseminate health policy evidence.

PMID:
28850791
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