Washington: Discussion about cardiac arrests on Twitter, which is a common practice, may represent a new opportunity to provide lifesaving information about it to the public, a new study has suggested.
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania evaluated cardiac arrest and resuscitation-related Tweets during a month-long period in the spring of 2011 and discovered that users frequently share information about CPR and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and discuss resuscitation topics in the news.
“Twitter is an incredible resource for connecting and mobilizing people, and it offers users a way to receive instant feedback and information. The potential applications of social media for cardiac arrest are vast,” Raina Merchant, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine said.
“Health care providers and advocacy groups can push information to the public about CPR training and best practices in cardiac arrest care, and participate in real-time discussions about cardiac arrest issues in the media.
“Twitter might even be harnessed to save lives in an emergency, by allowing bystanders who respond to cardiac arrests in public places to seek information about the location of the closest AED,” she said.
In one of the new studies, the researchers identified 15,324 tweets involving cardiac arrest specific information and found that 14 percent referenced cardiac arrest events, with 5 percent of those messages relating personal experiences with the condition and 9 percent representing users sharing information relating to arrest locations and treatment interventions and guidelines.
Twenty nine percent of tweets referenced CPR performance or AED use, with 23 percent of those messages involving personal stories about real-life performance of CPR or classroom training in the technique and likes/dislikes regarding CPR/AED courses.
Six percent of the CPR/AED-related messages referenced what the researchers termed “information sharing”, like observations about someone giving CPR or using an AED in a public place, or commentary about the new “hands-only” CPR guidelines for bystanders.
Nearly 60 percent of the tweets related to health education – such as advocacy group and training events – and the sharing of cardiac arrest-related news articles about celebrities, athletes, and young adults affected by the condition.
In the second study, they sought to understand what types of questions the public is asking about cardiac arrest on Twitter, in hopes to providing clues for how health care professionals can participate in the discussion to provide reliable information.
They found that 21 percent were queries about symptoms, risk factors, prognosis, the difference between cardiac arrest and heart attack, treatment options, and the use of therapeutic hypothermia.
Thirty-nine percent of question tweets identified were related to CPR, including guidelines for its use, proper technique, details about certification classes, and accuracy of media portrayal of resuscitation.
Forty percent of queries pertained to AEDs – costs, device safety and batteries, availability, proper use, and effectiveness.