Content analysis of Twitter in relation to biological treatments for chronic inflammatory arthropathies: an exploratory study

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Objective

To analyse the volume and content of tweets in relation to biological treatments for chronic inflammatory arthropathies.


Methods

A Twitter analysis was carried out during one month using the following keywords: ’rheumatoid arthritis’, ’ankylosing spondylitis’, ’psoriatic arthritis’ and their biological therapies: ’abatacept’, ’adalimumab’, ’certolizumab’, ’etanercept’, ’golimumab’, ’infliximab’ and ’tocilizumab’. Tweets were hand-coded and filtered for content.


Results

25 441 tweets contained at least one of the keywords. After filtering, 2480 tweets were included in the analysis. Regarding the 983 tweets about therapies, the most frequently mentioned biologics were ’adalimumab’ (n=359), ’infliximab’ (n= 278) and ’etanercept’ (n= 205). In the 1497 tweets about diseases, the term ’rheumatoid arthritis’ (n= 1109) was used more frequently than ’psoriatic arthritis’ (n= 233) and ’ankylosing spondylitis’ (n= 155). The most commonly addressed subjects in the tweets in relation to biological therapies were related to safety/adverse events (136 of 983 (13.8%)) and to administration, particularly drug infusion (60 of 983 (6.1%)) and self-administration (57 of 983 (5.8%)). Regarding diseases, the most commonly addressed subjects were non-pharmacological recommendations such as alternative therapies (145 of 1497 (9.7%)), nutrition (128 of 1497 (8.5%)) and exercise (91 of 1497 (6.1%)).


Conclusions

Twitter is widely used to search for information about biological treatments for chronic athropathies. Learning more about the subjects dealt with in the tweets will enable us to improve our understanding of the areas of greater interest and concern among patients. This could help hospital pharmacists establish patient-focused strategies addressing the needs of the patients.

http://ejhp.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/26/3/124?rss=1