TikTok: A new frontier for radiology

2018 10 31 20 54 1096 Phone Iphone2 400

When it comes to social media, TikTok, the video-sharing social networking service, offers a new frontier for radiology, according to a study published in the March-April issue of Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology.

The nature of TikTok may particularly lend itself for use in the specialty, wrote a team led by Jessica Lovett of NYU Langone Health in New York City, NY.

"[TikTok] content can be easily edited and overlaid with music, text, and other special effects with minimal to no technological experience required," the group noted. "These capabilities may prove particularly attractive in the field of radiology, which requires the clear display and annotation of images and video clips."

More and more, social media is being used in medicine to disseminate healthcare information, assess public health literacy and opinion, and recruit clinical trial participants, Lovett and colleagues wrote. Typical platforms have included Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. TikTok joined the fray in 2017, and it is the fastest growing social media application worldwide.

But TikTok's use in medicine has not been explored, according to authors.

"The goal of [our] study was to analyze top radiology-related posts on TikTok, characterize the source and content of information, and identify and describe areas for potential engagement in the field of radiology," they wrote.

Lovett's team culled 284 posts since the app's inception that met search criteria for the term "radiology." The posts were shared by 187 unique TikTok users, of whom 81% were nonphysician radiology personnel and 5% were radiologists.

The investigators found the following:

  • The 284 posts had a median of 1,520 plays, 60 likes, and two comments.
  • 65% of the posts were work-related; 24% clinically-related, 11% personal, and 1% promotional.
  • 65% of posts made by radiologists were clinical in nature; 88% of those were imaging cases.
  • Of these imaging cases posted to TikTok, 45% were related to CT, 30% to x-ray, 15% to MRI, 3% to ultrasound, 3% to fluoroscopy, and 3% to mixed imaging modalities.
  • 38% of the 284 posts were related to the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating TikTok's potential usefulness for discussion of timely medical topics, Lovett and colleagues noted.

Radiologists did let their hair down a bit: Of the work-related posts, 42% showed "staff having fun at work" or demonstrated "work satisfaction or pride." Of the personal posts, most of these were humorous and/or musical (54%).

TikTok represents a new social media frontier for radiology, according to Lovett's group.

"Our findings describe an important and timely opportunity for radiologists to be early adopters of this popular platform in order to generate clinically oriented content, engage professionally, and discuss contemporary topics," it concluded.

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