Patient feedback surveys provide important insight into patient outcomes, satisfaction, and perioperative needs. Recent critiques have questioned provider-initiated surveys and their capacity to accurately gauge patient perspectives due to intrinsic biases created by question framing. In this study, the authors sought to evaluate provider-independent, patient-controlled social media Instagram posts in order to better understand the patient experience following scoliosis correction surgery.
Twitter and Instagram were queried for posts with two tagged indicators, #scoliosissurgery or @scoliosissurgery, resulting in no relevant Twitter posts and 25,000 Instagram posts. Of the initial search, 24,500 Instagram posts that did not directly involve the patient’s own experience were eliminated. Posts were analyzed and coded for the following criteria: the gender of the patient, preoperative or postoperative timing discussed in the post, and classified themes related to the patient’s experiences with scoliosis correction surgery.
Females made 87.6% of the Instagram posts about their experience following scoliosis correction surgery. The initial postoperative stage of surgery was mentioned in 7.6% of Instagram posts. The most common theme on Instagram involved offering or seeking online support from other patients, which constituted 85.2% of all posts. Other common themes included concern about the surgical scar (31.8%), discussing the results of treatment (28.8%), and relief regarding results (21.2%).
Social media provided a platform to analyze unprompted feedback from patients. Patients were most concerned with their scoliosis correction surgery in the period of time 2 weeks or more after surgery. Themes that were most commonly found on Instagram posts were offering or seeking online support from other patients and concern about the surgical scar. Patient-controlled social media platforms, like Instagram, may provide a useful mechanism for healthcare providers to understand the patient experience following scoliosis correction surgery. Such platforms may help in evaluating postoperative satisfaction and improving postoperative quality of care.