George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences Washington, DC
Aslam Akhtar, PhD1, Katrina Naik, MD2, Vinay Rao, MD3, Victoria Garland, MD2, Joseph Cioffi, MD2, Stephen Testa, MD2, Daniel Kerchner, MS2, Marie L. Borum, MD, EdD, MPH1; 1George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC; 2George Washington University, Washington, DC; 3Thomas Jefferson University, Washington, DC
Introduction: Patients are increasingly using social media to self-educate and share medical knowledge. Twitter is a powerful social media platform due to its rapid messaging and dissemination of unfiltered information including medical advice, inquiries and symptoms. While the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 responsible for the COVID19 pandemic is known to cause fever and respiratory distress, numerous reports describe gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the use of Twitter to discuss GI symptoms of COVID19. Methods: Social Feed Manager software (Harvard Dataverse, Version 2, GW University, 2020) was used to build a database of COVID tweets containing #COVID19 or #CoronaOutbreak from 3/4/20 – 4/2/20. From the database a subset was derived which included at least one of the following: #GIsymptoms, #diarrhea, #vomiting, #stomachpain, #stomachache, #abdominalpain, #bellypain, #bellyache, #nausea, #loosestool #waterystool, #foulstool, #anorexia, #lackofappetite, #noappetite. Statistical analysis was performed using Fisher’s Exact test with significance set at p< 0.05. Results: Of 579 tweets queried, 66.7% were from personal accounts, 12.6% by MDs and 7.6% by other providers. 62% of tweets by MDs linked to an academic website vs 40% by other users (p = 0.0003). 70% of tweets shared GI symptoms of COVID19, 13.8% shared other information and 3.6% were inquiries. #Diarrhea was the most common GI symptom tweet. Most users who shared location were in the United States (39%), followed by European countries (13.7%) and India (3.6%). 59% of tweets were original, 28% retweets, 6% quotes, and 6% replies. The most frequently linked Twitter user was @MarkPochapin (212 mentions), followed by @CDCgov (20) and @realDonaldTrump (19). Discussion: As society progresses toward rapid information acquisition, it is imperative that healthcare professionals explore means of disseminating information outside of the clinical setting. Diarrhea, which until recently was not recognized as a COVID symptom, was the most frequently tweeted in this study. The tweet most referenced was by a gastroenterologist (Mark Pochapin, about an AJG article about COVID GI symptoms). After personal tweets, MDs and other providers were the most common users (12.6% and 7.6%). This study speaks to Twitter’s wide network for medical providers to share medical knowledge.
Disclosures: Aslam Akhtar indicated no relevant financial relationships. Katrina Naik indicated no relevant financial relationships. Vinay Rao indicated no relevant financial relationships. Victoria Garland indicated no relevant financial relationships. Joseph Cioffi indicated no relevant financial relationships. Stephen Testa indicated no relevant financial relationships. Daniel Kerchner indicated no relevant financial relationships. Marie Borum indicated no relevant financial relationships.