The Use of Instagram by Plastic Surgery Journals
Pooja S. Yesantharao, MS1, Waverley He, BS1, Helen Xun, BS1, Justin M. Sacks, MD MBA2, Kristen P. Broderick, MD1.
1Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA, 2Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.
PURPOSE: Plastic surgery journals are increasingly using Instagram to publicize research. With COVID-19-related conference cancellations, plastic surgery academic societies have also turned to Instagram to disseminate research. More than other social media platforms, Instagram uniquely serves as a powerful and engaging visual tool. However, social media also carries a risk of bias: prior work has demonstrated that greater social media popularity of articles is not correlated with higher levels of clinical evidence. Furthermore, while journals are making strides to improve gender/minority representation, it is unknown whether this has been carried forward to social media. This study objectively assessed the use of Instagram by plastic surgery journals.
METHODS: This was a cross-sectional bibliometric investigation. Four plastic surgery journals with Instagram pages were selected. Every original article published in 2019 was tabulated in terms of content (breast, hand, etc.), article type (clinical, basic science, review, etc.), author demographics, level of evidence, and whether or not it was advertised on Instagram. Among articles posted on Instagram, post engagement was recorded. Characteristics of articles posted on Instagram versus those that were not posted were compared using non-parametric testing and multivariable logistic regression.
RESULTS: Among the four journals, 3,087 articles were reviewed. Across journals’ social media profiles, 55% of “likes” and 87% of comments were from profiles affiliated with plastic surgery programs/organizations/clinics, or surgeons/trainees. Overall, articles advertised on Instagram were not significantly different in terms of content (p=0.45) or level of evidence (p=0.31) when compared to those that were not. However, there were a significantly lower percentage of articles published by international study teams (p=0.04) and female corresponding authors (p=0.03) on journals’ social media platforms when compared to their actual publication archives. Upon multivariable analyses, literature/systematic reviews had decreased odds of publication on journal social media platforms (OR: 0.7, 95% confidence interval: 0.6-0.8, p=0.03). Articles advertised on Instagram had significantly greater citation rates and Altmetric scores. Since joining Instagram, three of the four journals experienced increases in impact factor.
CONCLUSIONS: Instagram has the potential to serve as a powerful e-learning tool for users interested in plastic surgery research: in fact, a substantial proportion of journals’ social media post engagement came from surgeon/trainee profiles. Overall, Instagram posts by plastic surgery journals were representative of the published literature in terms of content. As Instagram continues to gain traction in the academic plastic surgery community, it is important to further leverage this important platform for plastic surgery research.
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