December 11, 2019

SoMe’s role in new era of medical education

An analysis of international critical care conferences between 2014 and 2017


Social media (SoMe) has been broadly used to promote discussion and collaboration, about current developments and research amongst medical students (Abbas & Utkarsh, 2019). Nurses also reported that they widely use SoMe to share medical knowledge and facilitate patient-nurse interaction (Wang et al. 2019). Twitter platform has been fashionable for assisting professionals to reach scientific conferences, including those in Intensive Care Medicine (ICM). Nevertheless, SoMe’s ability to maintain meaningful learning discussions beyond the duration of the conference is debatable.

Wong et al. (2019) compared several major ICM conferences across the world to describe the trends in SoMe (specifically Twitter) usage between 2014 and 2017. They used software to determine the number of individual Twitter users, total volume of Twitter interaction and the relative proportions of types of tweets during 15 ICM conferences.

Authors showed that the overall Twitter activity has increased in most conferences, along with the volume of re-tweets and interactions between users. LIVES (ESICM) and the Critical Care Congress (CCC) (Society of Critical Care Medicine) had a 2.5-fold and an almost four-fold increase in Twitter users over the three years, respectively. The number of tweet numbers for each active user was significantly increased at the LIVES conferences, while at CCC conferences it remained mostly constant. Interestingly, at all conferences, the majority of Twitter users only posted a single original tweet (not including re-tweets); however, the number of users posting more than five tweets increased at the LIVES and the International Fluid Academy Day meetings (IFAD) conference.

Notably, the percentage of users who posted more than five tweets was more extensive in the Social Media and Critical Care (SMACC) conferences, compared to other conferences.

Review of Twitter activity within each congress organis-ation showed that the only conference where there was significant activity from the organisation’s official twitter account was IFAD.



Wong et al.’s analysis provided a global view on the use of SoMe in ICM conferences worldwide. Social Media and Critical Care (SMACC) conferences were considered as the benchmark ‘gold standard’ with which to compare the other ICM conferences that evolved to keep up with the technological advancements.

Focus on quantitative measures, instead of qualitative; number of conferences; and analyses (only Twitter and not the other social media platforms) were some of the study’s limitations.



SoMe commences a new era in medical education, as they have greatly facilitated the rapid real-time sharing of learning and engagement with experts beyond the geographical location of ICM conferences. Although further research is needed to identify whether SoMe impacts on learning in medical education, their unique elements allow learning through dissemination to thrive.


This article review was prepared and submitted by Katerina Iliopoulou, N&AHP Committee.


1) Abbas, N. and Ojha, U., 2019. Not Just a Medical Student: Delivering Medical Education Through a Short Video Series on Social MediaJMIR medical education, 5(1), p.e11971
2) Wang, Z., Wang, S., Zhang, Y. and Jiang, X., 2019. Social media usage and online professionalism among registered nurses: a cross-sectional surveyInternational Journal of Nursing Studies.
3) Wong, A., Capel, I. and Malbrain, M., 2019. Social media in critical care: Fad or a new standard in medical education? An analysis of international critical care conferences between 2014 and 2017Journal of the Intensive Care Society, 20(4), pp.341-346.


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