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Background: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the most pressing concerns in our society. Today, social media can function as an important channel to disseminate information about AMR. The way in which this information is engaged with depends on a number of factors, including the target audience and the content of the social media post.

Objective: The aim of this study is to better understand how AMR-related content is consumed on the social media platform Twitter and to understand some of the drivers of engagement. This is essential to designing effective public health strategies, raising awareness about antimicrobial stewardship, and enabling academics to effectively promote their research on social media.

Methods: We took advantage of unrestricted access to the metrics associated with the Twitter bot @AntibioticResis, which has over 13,900 followers. This bot posts the latest AMR research in the format of a title and a URL link to the PubMed page for an article. The tweets do not contain other attributes such as author, affiliation, or journal. Therefore, engagement with the tweets is only affected by the words used in the titles. Using negative binomial regression models, we measured the impact of pathogen names in paper titles, academic attention inferred from publication counts, and general attention estimated from Twitter on URL clicks to AMR research papers.

Results: Followers of @AntibioticResis consisted primarily of health care professionals and academic researchers whose interests comprised mainly AMR, infectious diseases, microbiology, and public health. Three World Health Organization (WHO) critical priority pathogens—Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacteriaceae—were positively associated with URL clicks. Papers with shorter titles tended to have more engagements. We also described some key linguistic characteristics that should be considered when a researcher is trying to maximize engagement with their publication.

Conclusions: Our finding suggests that specific pathogens gain more attention on Twitter than others and that the levels of attention do not necessarily correspond to their status on the WHO priority pathogen list. This suggests that more targeted public health strategies may be needed to raise awareness about AMR among specific pathogens. Analysis of follower data suggests that in the busy schedules of health care professionals, social media offers a fast and accessible gateway to staying abreast of the latest developments in this field.


This article was originally published in Journal of Medical Internet Research, volume 25, in 2023.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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