A recent survey has shown that caregivers of children with shunt-treated hydrocephalus frequently use social media networks for support and information gathering. The objective of this study is to describe and assess social media utilization among users interested in hydrocephalus.
Publicly accessible accounts and videos dedicated to the topic of hydrocephalus were comprehensively searched across 3 social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) throughout March 2016. Summary statistics were calculated on standard metrics of social media popularity. A categorization framework to describe the purpose of pages, groups, accounts, channels, and videos was developed following the screening of 100 titles. Categorized data were analyzed using nonparametric tests for statistical significance.
The authors’ search identified 30 Facebook pages, 213 Facebook groups, 17 Twitter accounts, and 253 YouTube videos. These platforms were run by patients, caregivers, nonprofit foundations, and patient support groups. Most accounts were from the United States (n = 196), followed by the United Kingdom (n = 31), Canada (n = 17), India (n = 15), and Germany (n = 12). The earliest accounts were created in 2007, and a peak of 65 new accounts were created in 2011. The total number of users in Facebook pages exceeded those in Facebook groups (p < 0.001). The majority of users in Facebook groups were in private groups, in contrast to public groups (p < 0.001). The YouTube videos with the highest median number of views were for surgical products and treatment procedures.
This study presents novel observations into the characteristics of social media use in the topic of hydrocephalus. Users interested in hydrocephalus seek privacy for support communications and are attracted to treatment procedure and surgical products videos. These findings provide insight into potential avenues of hydrocephalus outreach, support, or advocacy in social media.