#41 – Is #Meded Dead? Social Media & KT in HPE

Dr. Jason R. Frank, portrait.
Episode host: Jason Frank.
(Photo E. Cronberg)

Episode article

Giroux, C. M., Maggio, L. A., Saldanha, C., Bussières, A., & Thomas, A. (2023). Twitter as a Mechanism of Knowledge Translation in Health Professions Education: An Exploratory Content Analysis. Perspectives on medical education, 12(1), 529–539.

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To thrive, every academic community strives for greater knowledge dissemination and translation. Can HPE succeed on social media using a hashtag like #meded? These authors rated tweets using knowledge translation criteria, and the results were surprising.

Episode notes


Are you on Twitter/X? Bluesky? LinkedIn? Old school Facebook? Do you use it for scholarship?

All health professions education(HPE) scholars want to disseminate their ideas widely, engage relevant colleagues, debate issues, and contribute to advancing our field. With reports that most HPE papers are rarely cited or read, why not use social media? Social media offers millions of global users, opportunities for micro-blogging, tracking your fav topics with hashtags, add pictures, tell your family you are famous! What’s not to love?

But does social media really change practice in HPE? Is our community doing dynamic learning online or being, well…social? Do we do knowledge translation (KT) on social media?


Enter Giroux and colleagues. This author team includes multiple powerhouse researchers, including Lauren Maggio and Aliki Thomas. This group set out characterize the HPE content on Twitter and describe how it relates to knowledge translation.


The authors adopted a conceptual framework of knowledge translation (KT) derived from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). They defined KT as “a dynamic and iterative process” to address knowledge-to-practice gaps to enhance healthcare. This CIHR-inspired KT framework can involve 5 strategies, as summarized below:

DiffusionPassive posting without tailoring for an audience. “Let it happen”“Check out this paper I wrote”
DisseminationTailored messages for a specific audience, assisting uptake. “Helping it happen”“Hey medical students, here is a new resource for learning how to suture. Check out this infographic and links to videos”
Knowledge ExchangeInteractions between knowledge users and researchers“Hey program directors, oin our tweetup on Wednesday, where the authors of this new research on trainee fatigue risk management will propose implications for programs”
Knowledge synthesisContextualizing findings within the larger body of knowledge“Here is my tweetorial on the latest research by Sherbino et al on clinical reasoning and the implications for how we teach learners”
Ethically Sound Application of KnowledgeIterative, strategic, contextualized, ethical, engagement with specific knowledge users addressing barriers and facilitators to uptake.“Let’s work together as a community of admissions deans to help students from this equity-deserving group enter nursing”
Framework for knowledge translation inspired from Institutes for Health Research

The authors selected the prominent hashtag #Meded and used the platform Symplur to select relevant tweets between March 2021-March 2022. To be included, tweets had to:

  1. Primary tweets. No replies or retweets.
  2. Share high quality information with links and references. No personal perspectives.
  3. Target HP educators
  4. Related to UG, PG, or CPD
  5. Written by identifiable professionals or healthcare institutions, not companies.
  6. In English or French

They selected the first 1500 tweets per month, screening them for the inclusion criteria. The authors describe using directed content analysis. A secondary screening was done both deductively and inductively to de-duplicate and compare tweets vs the KT framework. Tweets were coded according to the KT categories, tweet modalities (eg. videos, infographics), and for broad HPE topic. The authors took steps to ensure rigour by developing a codebook, dual coding, and author discussions.

The authors epistemic stance appeared to be post-positivist.


The authors imported 18,000 tweets over the 12 months, then excluded 15,583 using their criteria. 2,417 tweets underwent secondary screening, and 1926 were excluded for lack of an evidence source. 478 tweets were ultimately included.

Tweet formats included: threads, tweetorials, conversations, research explanations, links to articles, images, or links to websites, podcasts, infographics, webinars, news, programs, or shared resources.

Content areas included:

  • Teaching and learning strategies and innovations,
  • Social justice,
  • Research methods,
  • Wellness,
  • Curriculum design and evaluation,
  • Faculty development,
  • Learner experience,
  • Pandemic education,
  • Specific competencies (eg communication skills),
  • Care delivery (eg workforce).

The mean number of likes was 9.83 and retweets was 3.53. Most tweets received no engagement whatsoever.

The authors labeled most studies as Diffusion (296/478) or Dissemination (164/478). None were found to be in the “Ethically Sound Application” category.

The authors labeled the study as “exploratory” due to their use of a single hashtag, sourcing via Symplur, and strict inclusion criteria.


The authors concluded that #Meded on Twitter/X appeared to a network of voices using passive diffusion of information from a KT perspective. Perhaps social media was inadequate for use for knowledge translation.


There are times when social media has been an amazing source of HPE ideas, conference discussions, awareness of new research, and communities of practice for me. The authors took on a daunting study to see how our HPE community’s activity on twitter relates to KT. Their strict inclusion criteria inevitably lead to result of little engagement.

Paper Clips:

  1. This paper illustrates the use of a conceptual framework to help answer a unique question.
  2. Directed content analysis is not common in meded papers.
  3. These authors undertook great efforts to ensure rigour of their analysis.


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