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Academic Productivity and Vascular-Specific Content from Social Media Influencers in Vascular Surgery Compared to Complementary Specialties
Basil Mirza, Brian Fazzone, Erik Anderson, Salvatore Scali, Scott Berceli, Jieun Shin, Scott Robinson
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Background: Social media is increasingly used for the dissemination of scientific information to healthcare providers, patients, and the general public. Platforms such as Twitter (now X) provide a public forum enabling physicians to distribute medical knowledge, build a networking community, and develop a unique individual brand. When competing specialists provide care to vascular surgery patients, the online narrative surrounding the care of these patients can be driven by non-vascular surgeon providers. Social media content relating to vascular care has not been analyzed, nor have the academic credentials of top physician influencers who treat vascular disease. To understand social media influencer networks of vascular care providers, we compared the top Twitter influencers across 4 competing specialties and examined relationships between social media influence and academic productivity. We also performed a content analysis of archived tweets to determine how vascular surgeons impact vascular disease subject matter on Twitter.
Methods: A text search was performed on all Twitter profiles to select US-based Twitter users who self-identify as vascular surgeons[VS], interventional cardiologists[IC], cardiothoracic surgeons[CTS], or interventional radiologists[IR]. The top 100 influencers within each specialty were selected by the Social Authority(SA) metric, a measure of engagement within Twitter. User institutional affiliation was identified with a standardized internet search. H-index, publication number, university affiliation, and professorship were acquired using Scopus and publicly available data. Univariate analyses were performed to identify relationships between variables. Twitter API was used to capture each user's last 3200 tweets. Hashtags pertaining to PAD, venous disease, and aortic disease were identified and compared across specialties.
Results: We identified 8321 Twitter handles of users across 4 specialties: VS(1936), IC(3588), CTS(2306), and IR(491). Table 1 depicts Twitter user characteristics and academic affiliations/productivity of the top 100 US-based influencers in each specialty. Most CTS(72%) and VS(67%) users were academically affiliated. VS were more influential than CTS(486.0vs 3811.4,p<0.001) but less influential than IC(556.4,p<0.001). VS also had fewer followers/user than IC (16061338vs44207415,p<0.001), but not CTS or IR. Among academically affiliated Twitter users, VS had similar H-indices (1916), publications/user (88106) and citations/user (25475182) as IC, CTS, and IR (P>0.050 for all). Academic rank was similar across specialties (p=0.99), with most users representing assistant professors (30-44%). VS accounted for most of the original content relating to aortic disease(69% of aorta-related hashtags) but only 36% of PAD-related content and 22% of venous disease-related content.
Conclusions: Among Twitter users who manage vascular disease, those identifying as IC have greater social media influence than users identifying as VS, CTS, or IR. Twitter influence does not correlate with measures of academic productivity for top academic users. Vascular surgeons are substantial contributors to Twitter content relating to aortic disease but should increase efforts to disseminate responsible content related to PAD and venous disease.


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