December 1, 2015

New Research Article: “How Do Health Researchers Use Social Media?”

The following article is now available online from Health Affairs. 


Respondents of a 2013 survey felt social media is not respected by their peers or institutions; only 14 percent reported tweeting and 21 percent confirmed blogging about their research.


Translating Research For Health Policy: Researchers’ Perceptions And Use Of Social Media


David Grande
University of Pennsylvania

Sarah E. Gollust
University of Minnesota 

Maximilian Pany
Swarthmore College

Jane Seymour
University of Pennsylvania

Adeline Goss
University of Pennsylvania

Austin Kilaru
University of Pennsylvania

Zachary Meisel
University of Pennsylvania


Health Affairs
Published Online Before Print
June 2014


As the United States moves forward with health reform, the communication gap between researchers and policy makers will need to be narrowed to promote policies informed by evidence.

Social media represent an expanding channel for communication. Academic journals, public health agencies, and health care organizations are increasingly using social media to communicate health information. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now regularly tweets to 290,000 followers.

We conducted a survey of health policy researchers about using social media and two traditional channels (traditional media and direct outreach) to disseminate research findings to policy makers. Researchers rated the efficacy of the three dissemination methods similarly but rated social media lower than the other two in three domains: researchers’ confidence in their ability to use the method, peers’ respect for its use, and how it is perceived in academic promotion.

Just 14 percent of our participants reported tweeting, and 21 percent reported blogging about their research or related health policy in the past year. Researchers described social media as being incompatible with research, of high risk professionally, of uncertain efficacy, and an unfamiliar technology that they did not know how to use.

Researchers will need evidence-based strategies, training, and institutional resources to use social media to communicate evidence.

Direct to Full Text Article ||| PDF Version of Article (9  pages; PDF)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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