Social Media Improves Cardiothoracic Surgery Literature Dissemination: Results of a Randomized Trial

Jessica G.Y. Luc, Michael A. Archer, Rakesh C. Arora, Edward M. Bender, Arie Blitz, David T. Cooke, Tamara Ni Hlci, Biniam Kidane, Maral Ouzounian, Thomas K. Varghese, Mara B. Antonoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: The Thoracic Surgery Social Media Network (TSSMN) represents a collaborative effort of leading journals in cardiothoracic surgery to highlight publications via social media, specifically Twitter. We conducted a prospective randomized trial to determine the effect of scheduled tweeting on nontraditional bibliometrics of dissemination. Methods: A total of 112 representative original articles (2017-2018) were selected and randomized 1:1 to an intervention group to be tweeted via TSSMN or a control (non-tweeted) group. Four articles per day were tweeted by TSSMN delegates for 14 days. Primary endpoints included change in article-level metrics (Altmetric) score pre-tweet and post-tweet compared with the control group. Secondary endpoints included change in Twitter analytics day 1 post-tweet and day 7 post-tweet for each article compared with baseline. Results: Tweeting via TSSMN significantly improved article Altmetric scores (pre-tweet 1 vs post-tweet 8; P <.001), Mendeley reads (pre-tweet 1 vs post-tweet 3; P <.001), and Twitter impressions (day 1 post-tweet 1599 vs day 7 post-tweet 2296; P <.001). Subgroup analysis demonstrates that incorporating photos into the tweets trended toward increased link clicks to the full-text article (P =.08) whereas tweeting at 1 pm Eastern Standard Time and 9 pm Eastern Standard Time generated the highest and lowest audience reach (P =.022), respectively. Articles published in adult cardiac surgery achieved the highest change in Altmetric score (P =.028) and Mendeley reads (P =.028), and were more likely to be retweeted (P =.042) than were those published on education, general thoracic surgery, and congenital surgery. Conclusions: Social media highlights of scholarly literature via TSSMN Twitter activity improves article Altmetric scores, Mendeley reads, and Twitter analytics, with dissemination to a greater audience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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