Currently, as much as 50%
of all antibiotic use is inappropriate, leading to unintended
consequences such as antibiotic toxicity and increased antimicrobial
resistance. Ensuring optimal use of antibiotics continues to be a
central public health concern, and medical residents are a central focus
of efforts to improve education in this field. But the question remains
as to the best way to reach them.
A new study
from the University of Chicago Medicine examines the use of social
media platforms to inform young physicians about proper use of
antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics.
‘Social media platforms provide an effective method to reinforce antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASP) and encourage the use of ASP resources to promote antimicrobial mindfulness.’
A study by Jennifer Pisano and colleagues appearing in the American Journal of Infection Control
finds that social media platforms - including Facebook and Twitter -
provide an effective method to reinforce antimicrobial stewardship
programs (ASP) and encourage the use of ASP resources to promote
antimicrobial mindfulness among internal medicine residents. The
strategy pioneered by the researchers successfully directed medical
residents to the appropriate use of clinical pathways.
Over the course of six months, 55 medical residents received
Facebook posts and tweets of basic information promoting both
educational tools and clinical pathways located on the researchers'
hospital's ASP website. The medical residents also received identical
infectious disease and antibiotic knowledge "trivia questions," as well
as interspersed questions.
Participants' knowledge of how to use the ASP website increased from
70% to 94%, while these residents' antibiotic knowledge
also improved. Crucially, use of relevant clinical pathways sometimes,
frequently, or always increased from 33% to 61% (P =
Each year in the United States, at least two million people become
infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least
23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections, estimates
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance.