Who's Posting What? A Qualitative, Cross-Sectional Study Comparing Twitter and Instagram Patterns Between Health Care Professionals and Patients

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Female pelvic medicine & reconstructive surgery




IMPORTANCE: There is a paucity of evidence-based, physician-authored content available on social media. Data are lacking on physicians use of social media, including intended audience and content. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore the patterns of Twitter and Instagram use for popular urogynecology hashtags between physicians, patients, and allied health professionals (AHPs). STUDY DESIGN: Twelve hashtags derived from the Urogynecology Tag Ontology project were used as search terms to select Twitter and Instagram posts. Up to 5 top posts per hashtag per author type (physician, patient, or AHP) were included. Posts were analyzed using Dedoose qualitative analytic software by author, hashtag, intended audience, and themes. RESULTS: On Twitter, 109 posts met inclusion criteria: 41% written by physicians, 40% patients, and 18.3% AHPs. For Instagram, 72 posts were included: 50% written by patients, 39% AHPs, and 11% physicians. Twitter physician posts were mainly intended for health professionals (64%) with only 18% for patients. Patients posted to the general public (57%) and patients (36%). Instagram physician posts were intended for health professionals (49%), whereas 62% of AHPs posted to patients. Most patient posts were directed to other patients (90%). Physicians posted about academic peer discussions, medical education, and advocacy. Patients posted about personal experiences, treatments, or dissatisfaction. CONCLUSIONS: Physicians are more likely to post on Twitter than Instagram, with content focused primarily on their peer group, and physicians/patients are unlikely to engage with each other. There is an opportunity to improve social media interactions between physicians and the public while increasing high-quality patient education.


Obstetrics and Gynecology