Tweets Reveal Patient Experience with MRI

Radiologists can learn about their patients’ experiences through their Tweets.

Twitter is a viable platform for conducting research into patient experience with MRIs, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences.

A researcher in Australia sought to determine if patients used Twitter to relate their experiences with MRI testing, and if the platform could be used as a viable research tool to evaluate patient experiences.

The researcher performed an in-depth manual review of patient tweets over the course of one calendar month. A total of 464 tweets met the study criteria and were categorized into three themes: MRI appointment, scan experience, and diagnosis. Sixteen tweets fell into more than one category. The patients sent messages that ranged from how they felt while anticipating the scan to their experiences and how they felt after the procedure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"43607","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_2202449378747","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4792","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 168px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Johnathan Hewis, MSc","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Earlier research has documented the anxiety that many patients fear when anticipating an MRI, the researcher wrote, and this study found that the anxiety could continue well beyond the actual examination. "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," author Johnathan Hewis, MSc, said in a release. "An appreciation of anxiety related to results is an important clinical consideration for MRI facilities and referrers." Using Twitter to learn about patient experience could also help physicians understand what other issues concern patients, the researcher noted.

“This study demonstrates that MRI patients do tweet about their experiences and that Twitter is a viable platform to conduct research into patient experience within the medical radiation sciences,” the researcher concluded.