Evaluation of Social Media Presence of Otolaryngology Residency Programs in the United States

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Abstract

Importance

Over two-thirds of the adult population in the United States use Facebook. Despite the high interest in and use of social media by the general public, the presence and accessibility of health care organizations on social media has not yet been fully evaluated.

Objective

To determine the use and popularity of social media among otolaryngology residency programs in the United States.

Design, Setting, and Participants

A cross-sectional study of the presence of accredited otolaryngology residency programs in the United States in an internet data repository was conducted. Programs were stratified by Doximity Residency Navigator reputation rankings (dividing programs into quartiles) and US News & World Report (comparing programs affiliated with hospitals ranked in the top 50 vs programs affiliated with unranked hospitals). Social media sites and activity for each program were assessed using internet searches. The study was conducted in April 2017.

Results

Among 101 otolaryngology residency programs, 30 were found to have social media sites (29.7%). Facebook and Twitter were the most commonly used services, with 25 (24.8%) and 14 (13.9%) accounts, respectively. Based on Doximity Residency Navigator rankings, programs in the first quartile were more likely to have Facebook profiles than programs in the fourth quartile (42.3% vs 12.0%; absolute difference, 30%; 95% CI, 2.9% to 52.6%). First- and second-quartile programs showed increased Facebook activity. There was greater Twitter presence in first- vs fourth-quartile programs (19.2% vs 8.0%; absolute difference, 11.2%; 95% CI, −11.6% to 33.0%). Higher-quartile programs were more active on Twitter and exhibited increased numbers of likes and followers. Analysis of US News & World Report rankings revealed that ranked programs had higher rates of presence, activity, and popularity on both Facebook and Twitter. However, these were smaller differences than seen when comparing Doximity Residency Navigator rankings. Correlation between the 2 ranking systems was indicated (Spearman ρ = 0.59; 95% CI, 0.34 to 0.76).

Conclusions and Relevance

This study suggests that otolaryngology residency programs with higher Doximity Residency Navigator reputation rankings have a stronger presence on social media. Smaller trends were observed for programs in the top 50 US News & World Report rankings. Overall, social media use among otolaryngology programs seems relatively low, and this may present an opportunity to increase communication with the public via these technologies.

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