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Twitter allows doctors a peek into patients' minds

Twitter allows doctors a peek into patients
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Twitter is known for breaking news and celebrity tweets, but it may also prove to be a valuable feedback tool for medical professionals looking to...

Melbourne: Twitter is known for breaking news and celebrity tweets, but it may also prove to be a valuable feedback tool for medical professionals looking to improve the patient experience, a new study says.

Johnathan Hewis, an investigator from Charles Sturt University in Australia, analysed 464 tweets related to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) over the course of one month. MRI can be a stressful experience for many people,

but clinicians have few ways to track the thoughts and feelings of their patients regarding this procedure. After analysing the tweets Hewis found that patients, their friends, and family members were sharing their thoughts and feelings about all aspects of the procedure through the microblogging site.

Tweets were categorised into three themes: MRI appointment, scan experience, and diagnosis. In the study, patients expressed anxiety about many aspects of the process, including a lot of stress over the possibility of bad news.

"The findings of this study indicate that anticipatory anxiety can manifest over an extended time period and that the focus can shift and change along the MRI journey," said Hewis.

"An appreciation of anxiety related to results is an important clinical consideration for MRI facilities and referrers," he said.

The study found that tweets encapsulated patient thoughts about many other parts of the procedure including the cost, the feelings of claustrophobia, having to keep still during the scan, and the sound the MRI machine makes.Not all the tweets were centered around stress.

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