Hashtag #TBI: Tweets about Traumatic Brain Injury

Hashtag #TBI: A content and network data analysis of tweets about Traumatic Brain Injury

 

Aims: This study used a systematic search process in Twitter to identify tweets about Traumatic Brain Injury during a brain injury awareness month in March, 2016. Tweets were identified using a range of #hashtags relating to TBI. The research had three aims:

  1. Understand how Twitter is being used by TBI communities, including people who self-identify as having had a TBI, and organisations involved in advocacy, support, and fundraising for people with TBI;
  2. Gather and determine tweet content and Twitter networks evident in tweets tagged with TBI-related hashtags;
  3. Identify any challenges people with TBI face in using Twitter, considering tweets as an artefact of their attempts.

Results: The hashtag search identified 65,084 tweets, of which 29,199 met the criteria for inclusion and analysis. These tweets were sent by 893 unique twitter users. 219 of those users self-identified as having a TBI in their user profiles, or in their tweets. This relatively small user group suggested that the Twitter community discussing TBI under-represented the global community of people with a TBI. Visualisation of the Twitter networks created through tweets illustrated a complex network of connection and engagement for people with a TBI, their families, support organisations and the general public.

Most of the tweets (79%) were used to pass-along information between users. Most of this activity was achieved through re-tweeting (52%). Tweets were also used to hold conversations between users (14%), tell others about their thoughts or feelings (social broadcast tweets; 5%), report news and current affairs (1%), and greet the Twitter community (1%). This showed that only 21% of tweets expressed original content. There was no evidence of ‘hashtag chat’ activity, suggests that greater strategic direction is needed to facilitate more widespread discussion of TBI.

Implications: The volume of tweets and retweets discussing TBI shows Twitter is an important platform for communication during a TBI awareness-raising month. However, Twitter may be under-utilised by this community to engage and build community, and raise awareness of TBI.

Our onward queries: This snapshot study indicated that people with a TBI make up almost a quarter of the Twitter community discussing TBI on this social media platform during a TBI awareness month. How do people with a TBI find the experience of using Twitter to engage with social networks? Do they need specific supports to make it easier to engage with the Twitter community?

Full reference of article:
Brunner, M., Hemsley, B., Dann, S., Togher, L., & Palmer, S. (2018). Hashtag #TBI: A content and network data analysis of tweets about Traumatic Brain Injury. Brain Inj, 32(1), 49-63. doi:10.1080/02699052.2017.1403047

Link to article on publisher page: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02699052.2017.1403047

Link to the first author’s blog summary of this study: https://melissabrunner.wordpress.com/2018/04/

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