Radiologists take to Facebook for subspecialized info sharing

Many radiologists use Twitter and LinkedIn for staying up on matters related to their work. A study published online Nov. 12 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology shows they’d do well to tap, for the same purposes, the social-media platform that’s commonly thought of as a purely personal online space.

That would be Facebook, of course, and the Emory University researchers behind the study came to their conclusion after studying the activity of a private Facebook group set up for breast-imaging professionals.

Rebecca Seidel, MD, Richard Duszak Jr., MD, and co-authors suggest the group’s success could serve as a model for other radiology subspecialties looking to leverage social media as a worthwhile means of communicating with peers and colleagues.

Called BIRFG for breast imaging radiologist Facebook group, the private info- and thought-sharing spot launched with one person in February 2015. By February 2017 its head count had soared to 774 members—84 percent of whom were women, a notable number given that males make up close to three-quarters of the U.S. radiologist population.

Recording and analyzing activity data on the group, Seidel and colleagues counted 493 posts, 3,253 comments and 1,732 reactions. The latter included emojis as well as comments, and some 92 percent of posts succeeded in eliciting at least one or the other.

The average comment count was 6.6 per post, and slightly more than half the group’s members were active over the course of the two-year study period.

Radiologists “find value in using Facebook groups as a forum to network and exchange information about breast imaging,” the authors comment. “This may be generalizable to other radiology subspecialties. Given the popularity and accessibility of Facebook for personal use, it may prove a more comfortable social medium for radiologists to interact professionally.”

They add that the predominance of women in BIRFG might point to female rads being disproportionally represented in breast imaging compared with other radiology subspecialties. However, it may suggest that women radiologists favor Facebook for professional purposes, Seidel et al note. Either way, “such potential gender disparities in the choice of social media platforms merits further investigation.”