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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 171-174

Perception about social media use by rheumatology journals: Survey among the attendees of IRACON 2019

1 Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Clinical Immunology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication3-Sep-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Latika Gupta
Department of Clinical Immunology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow - 226 014, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_15_20

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Background: Rheumatology journals are exploring social media presence, though currently less than a third have dedicated social media editors.
Methods: A survey was conducted among the attendees of the Indian Rheumatology Association annual meet 2019 held at Puducherry, to assess the attitudes and perceptions of a target audience.
Results: There were 111 respondents, 90 practicing rheumatology and 21 from allied fields. Around threequarters (76.6%) have never subscribed to hard copies of any journal and 65% followed at least one medical journal on at least one social media platform; 87% preferred visual cues for learning and 95% felt the need for visual abstracts to promote articles on social media. Two-thirds (64%) felt that Altmetrics® might reflect the impact of an article better than the number of times it is cited.
Conclusion: Thus, the survey strengthened the felt need of rheumatology journals to have a presence on the social media. This presence ought to be supported by a strategy, including the active use of visual abstracts.

Keywords: Attitude, congress, Indian Rheumatology Association, rheumatology journals, social media, social networking

How to cite this article:
Ahmed S, Gupta L. Perception about social media use by rheumatology journals: Survey among the attendees of IRACON 2019. Indian J Rheumatol 2020;15:171-4

How to cite this URL:
Ahmed S, Gupta L. Perception about social media use by rheumatology journals: Survey among the attendees of IRACON 2019. Indian J Rheumatol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 18];15:171-4. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Social media comprises online applications and programs that allow users to share varied content and thus network over assorted topics. Social media not only helps to disseminate knowledge but also, more importantly, brings it to the appropriate target audience.[1] The usage of social media for medical education has grown by leaps and bounds since the beginning of the millennium.[2] Despite initial concerns over sophisticated medical knowledge being shared on platforms that exhibit little regulation over the content,[3] fuller acceptance has been seen in recent times.[4],[5],[6],[7] Studies have shown that social network can improve intraprofessional education.[8],[9]

Today, many journals showcase their work on social media platforms. However, just the presence on social media may not suffice; greater visibility might be achieved when backed by appropriate strategies. One basic strategy applied by many medical journals is the appointment of a social media editor.[10] Although journals from different fields of medicine have explored the role of social media, of the top forty rheumatology journals, less than ten have appointed dedicated social media editors.[10] Overall, data on the acceptability and hence possible success, of social media presence of various rheumatology journals is limited. Thus, we held a survey open to all attendees of the Indian Rheumatology Association annual congress held at Puducherry, India.

  Methods Top

A questionnaire was developed featuring 18 items, 16 of which were multichoice. They included the factual set and the rest the opinion set (on a Likert scale) [Supplementary Table 1]. While four questions were related to the respondent's background, four related to their preferences concerning medical journals, and the rest sought opinion on social media use in rheumatology. Specific areas were identified for questions. These were about the readership of medical literature on social media, digital editors, infographics, Altmetrics, and various social media platforms in use. Multiple ways of wording questions were considered to avoid the possibility that specific responses may be consistently chosen in error. An independent panel comprising three rheumatology consultants reviewed the questions and confirmed them to be representative of the content, for content validity of the survey. The questionnaire was scrutinized for grammatical errors, reduced clarity of idea, relevance and suitability of possible answers, and face and content validity. Wordings were altered after three rounds of revision [Supplementary Table 1]. All questions were mandatory apart from the identifier (name) and suggestions to improve the journal (last item). Internet protocol (IP) checks were done to avoid duplicated responses from a single respondent. All questions apart from the name of respondent were analyzed.

The data collection process was over The questionnaire was circulated to all participants of the Indian Rheumatology Association annual meet 2019 held at Puducherry, India. The link for SurveyMonkey® was made available to all participants in the conference through the Whova® app, the official app of the meeting. Besides, all the attendees of the meet were invited to complete the survey through E-mail that included a link to the SurveyMonkey® site. This year's conference had 978 registered attendees including rheumatologists and primary physicians, and intensivists routinely are involved in the care of rheumatology patients. We adhered to the Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-surveys to report the data. Institute ethics clearance was taken (2020-110-IP-EXP-16).[11]


Figures were downloaded from the SurveyMonkey® website, and descriptive statistics are being presented.

  Results Top

A total of 111 respondents completed the survey. Ninety were in rheumatology practice, and seven internists while 14 belonged to allied fields. While seven were exclusively treating children, 48 were adult rheumatologists, and 56 catered to all age groups. The respondents' years in practice were reasonably distributed, with approximately one-third each with <2, 3–5, and 6 or more years of experience.

Most often read medical journals

Annals of Rheumatic Diseases topped the list with 78 (70.3%), followed by the Society Journal of the Indian Rheumatology Association, the Indian Journal of Rheumatology (IJR), 73 (65.8%) and Nature Reviews Rheumatology in 67 (60.4%). Eighty-five (76.6%) have never actively subscribed to hard copies of any medical journal. Yet, almost half (53, 47.8%) read the hard copies available in their workplace or library.

Perception about medical journals on social media

The findings of the survey are summarized in [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Personal preferences of journal subscription (a) hard copy versus (b) social media and preference of visual cues (c) among respondents. Attitude and beliefs about (d) noticeability of articles on social media and as (e) visual abstracts and (f) infographics as a metric of article visibility over conventional citations (g) Preferred social media to find scientific literature and (h) Top medical journals read among survey respondents

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Suggestions to improve the journal

Most respondents suggested the use of a visual abstract and retweeting about articles apart from the various measures already taken by the IJR [Supplementary Table 2].

  Discussion Top

With enormous volumes of publications, there is a perceived need for curated information to reach the right audience through social media. We sought to determine the acceptance and views of Indian doctors allied with rheumatology, on this aspect.

The background of the respondents was varied, but with the majority having a primary rheumatology practice. Thus, it is presumed to reflect the similar readership of rheumatology journals.

The responders preferred digital information, and most did not subscribe to any hard copy of any journal. However, they did read hard copies wherever accessible. Most followed medical journals on social media and were in favor of visual cues such as the conversion of manuscript abstracts into visual abstracts. Visual summaries, also called infographics, have evolved based on the idea that pictures are more captive than words, and animated pictures work even better. Since the introduction of dancing out PhD research to the promotion of search by the British Medical Journal group,[12] video abstracts are here to stay. It has been shown that video abstracts are better perceived that graphical abstracts.[13]

It is important to note that WhatsApp® is a popular platform among the Indian rheumatologists for the dissemination of scientific information, as was Facebook®. Even in a survey among basic scientific and rheumatologists in the Emerging European Networking (EMEUNET) group, Facebook was the most common social media platform used, and at least half of the respondents used social media for research updates.[14] A scoping review has revealed how health professionals are actively using social media for a range of professional goals.[15],[16] The various strategies and ethical aspects of social media use have been discussed elsewhere.[17] The help of machine learning to sort information and to upload it at optimum timings will further improve targeting the correct content to the right reader.[18]

The survey has a few limitations. First, it was only online. Thus, physicians who do not prefer online activities may not have responded accordingly, leading to bias. Second, the number of respondents was limited. However, even in the similar online survey carried out by the comparatively large, pan-European EMEUNET group, the response rate was approximately the same. To ensure better completion rates, minimal personal information was obtained from the participants. This led to the limitation that the data were not able to be analyzed as per the age of participants. Other limitations are that the survey has not included the perspective of authors or of patients. These areas need to be explored.

  Conclusion Top

The survey revealed the encouraging attitude among the Indians stakeholders toward the presence of rheumatology journals on social media [Supplementary Figure 1]. Thus, rheumatology journals should have a presence on social media platforms and ideally should have a dedicated team to prepare infographics and other visual abstracts.


We would like to thank the organizers of IRACON 2019, Puducherry, for helping us initiate the survey among the attendees.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

Sakir Ahmed is a social media editor of the Indian Journal of Rheumatology; Latika Gupta is a social media editor of the Indian Journal of Rheumatology and the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.

  References Top

Berenbaum F. The social (media) side to rheumatology. Nat Rev Rheumatol 2014;10:314-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
Chu LF, Zamora AK, Young CA, Kurup V, Macario A. The role of social networking applications in the medical academic environment. Int Anesthesiol Clin 2010;48:61-82.  Back to cited text no. 2
Denecke K, Bamidis P, Bond C, Gabarron E, Househ M, Lau AY, et al. Ethical Issues of Social Media Usage in Healthcare. Yearb Med Inform 2015;10:137-47.  Back to cited text no. 3
Watson J. Social media use in cancer care. Semin Oncol Nurs 2018;34:126-31.  Back to cited text no. 4
Topolovec-Vranic J, Natarajan K. The use of social media in recruitment for medical research studies: A scoping review. J Med Internet Res 2016;18:e286.  Back to cited text no. 5
Lander ST, Sanders JO, Cook PC, O'Malley NT. Social media in pediatric orthopaedics. J Pediatr Orthop 2017;37:e436-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
Atlas MC. Miss Manners for social networking: A new role for medical librarians. J Med Libr Assoc 2012;100:239-43.  Back to cited text no. 7
Cobbett J, Tran V, Humphrey K. Social media in medical education: How far have we come? Emerg Med Australas 2018;30:420-2.  Back to cited text no. 8
Pittenger AL. The use of social networking to improve the quality of interprofessional education. Am J Pharm Educ 2013;77:174.  Back to cited text no. 9
Pineda C, Pérez-Neri I, Sandoval H. Challenges for social media editors in rheumatology journals: An outlook. Clin Rheumatol 2019;38:1785-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
Eysenbach G. Improving the quality of web surveys: The checklist for reporting results of internet E-surveys (CHERRIES). J Med Internet Res 2004;6:e34.  Back to cited text no. 11
Gonzolabs “ The “Dance Your Ph.D.” Contest. Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 Jan 28].  Back to cited text no. 12
Bredbenner K, Simon SM. Video abstracts and plain language summaries are more effective than graphical abstracts and published abstracts. PLoS One 2019;14:e0224697.  Back to cited text no. 13
Nikiphorou E, Studenic P, Ammitzbøll CG, Canavan M, Jani M, Ospelt C, et al. Social media use among young rheumatologists and basic scientists: Results of an international survey by the Emerging EULAR Network (EMEUNET). Ann Rheum Dis 2017;76:712-5.  Back to cited text no. 14
Surani Z, Hirani R, Elias A, Quisenberry L, Varon J, Surani S, et al. Social media usage among health care providers. BMC Res Notes 2017;10:654.  Back to cited text no. 15
Dol J, Tutelman PR, Chambers CT, Barwick M, Drake EK, Parker JA, et al. Health researchers' use of social media: Scoping review. J Med Internet Res 2019;21:e13687.  Back to cited text no. 16
Zimba O, Radchenko O, Strilchuk L. Social media for research, education and practice in rheumatology. Rheumatol Int 2020;40:183-90.  Back to cited text no. 17
Hanke RE, Gibbons AT, Casar Berazaluce AM, Ponsky TA. Digital transformation of academic medicine: Breaking barriers, borders, and boredom. J Pediatr Surg 2020;55:223-8.  Back to cited text no. 18


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