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Research: Social media communities for patients and families affected by congenital pediatric surgical conditions

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Research: Social media communities for patients and families affected by congenital pediatric surgical conditions

Pediatr Surg Int

. 2022 May 19;1-9. doi: 10.1007/s00383-022-05139-6. Online ahead of print. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35588326/

Social media communities for patients and families affected by congenital pediatric surgical conditions

Marina L Reppucci 1Luis De La Torre 2Kaci Pickett 3Lea Wehrli 2Margo M Nolan 4Jill Ketzer 2Andrea Bischoff 2Affiliations expand

Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Social media has become a means to allow individuals affected by rare diseases to connect with others. This study aimed to characterize the use of three popular social media platforms by individuals affected by common pediatric surgery index conditions.

Methods: A systematic search of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter was performed using standardized terms for the following pediatric surgical conditions: anorectal malformation, biliary atresia, bronchopulmonary sequestration, congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), congenital pulmonary airway malformation, duodenal atresia, esophageal atresia/tracheoesophageal fistula (EA/TEF), gastroschisis, Hirschsprung disease (HD), and omphalocele. Accounts active within the last year were analyzed and assessed.

Results: A total of 666 accounts were identified. Instagram was the most common platform, but accounts dedicated to support and story sharing were most common on Facebook. Biliary atresia and CDH had the largest communities identified. Support groups were most common among those dedicated to EA/TEF (43.3%, p < 0.001). Most accounts were created by parents, but accounts dedicated to HD had the greatest proportion founded by patients (22.4%, p = 0.04).

Conclusions: Social media use is common among patients and families affected by congenital surgical conditions. Certain diseases have larger communities and support networks. Knowledge about their existence may allow surgeons to direct patients towards supportive communities and resources.

Level of evidence: IV.

Keywords: Index pediatric surgeries; Infants; Neonates; Social media.

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