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Evidence-Based Physiatry and Social Media

Two New Sections

Frontera, Walter R. MD, PhD

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American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: July 2018 - Volume 97 - Issue 7 - p 465-466
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000952
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The term evidence has been broadly defined as the available information that supports an assertion. The distinguished biologist Edward Wilson considers scientific evidence as “organized, testable knowledge of the real world, of everything around us as well as ourselves, as opposed to the endlessly varied beliefs hold from myth and superstition.”1 This definition implies that the strength of the evidence is associated with the level of trust. Evidence-based medicine, on the other hand, has been defined as the “conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about individual patients.”2 The art of clinical medicine must be supported by evidence generated during the conduct of scientific research and experimentation. The integration of clinical thinking and interventions based on experience with scientific facts offers many advantages because it benefits the patients, strengthens the medical specialty, and serves the administrative needs of the health system. An important step to strengthen the level of evidence that supports the practice of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation was taken in 2016 when a Cochrane Rehabilitation field was established.3 The progress achieved in this initiative was described in a recent editorial published in this Journal.4

With the above in mind, this issue of the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (AJPM&R) includes a new monthly section titled “Evidence-Based Physiatry.” This section will be edited by Sabrina Paganoni, MD, PhD, a member of the Journal's editorial board. The purpose of this section is to disseminate information and practice recommendations that are based on the best scientific evidence available. The section will include summaries of guidelines published by professional organizations, consensus statements, reports published by Cochrane Rehabilitation, and similar publicly available documents. Communicating established facts that enhances the quality of rehabilitation is an important part of the Journal's mission.

On a different topic, in today's world, a significant amount of communication and dissemination of information and ideas occurs using various forms of social media. The use of online communications strategies such as Twitter and Facebook has been made possible by dramatic advances in technology. Brief messages can be a powerful way of delivering knowledge in the midst of an overabundance of information and limited professional time to study it. During the last few years, researchers have studied the potential effects of social media on a variety of behaviors. For example, medical education research has shown that interventions using social media result in improved knowledge, attitudes, and skills in learners.5 In terms of clinical practice, a recent randomized trial, studying knowledge translation, showed that tweets are an effective way of improving clinician's knowledge, clinical practice, and use of research information in the management of tendinopathy.6

With this issue of the AJPM&R, we begin a new project using social media platforms. This section (@ajpmrjournal) will be coordinated by Monica Verduzco-Gutiérrez, MD (Social Media Editor), and Raman Sharma, MD (Assistant Social Media Editor). We will use social media platforms to expand knowledge about the practice, research, and educational aspects of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, disseminate quality scientific research in the field, support academic physiatrists and scientists in rehabilitation medicine, and engage with interdisciplinary colleagues and the public. As with the scientific content of the journal, the social media messages are designed to be relevant to practitioners and researchers in a variety of medical and surgical specialties and rehabilitation disciplines, as well as those interested in education and administration.

Contributions and engagement from colleagues globally, and from all types of disciplines within rehabilitation, will be encouraged. Social media content is also shared from other reputable sources that align with the aims and scope contained in the AJPM&R, such as Cochrane Rehabilitation Database and the World Health Organization.

I hope that the readers of the AJPM&R will benefit from these two new sections of the Journal.


1. Wilson EO: Letters to a Young Scientist, vol. 55. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.; 2013
2. Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, et al.: Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ 1996;312:71–2
3. Kiekens C, Negrini S, Thomson D, et al.: Cochrane physical and rehabilitation medicine: current state of development and next steps. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2016;95:235–8
4. Negrini S, Arienti C, Gimigliano F, et al.: Cochrane Rehabilitation: organization and functioning. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2018;97:68–71
5. Cheston CC, Flickinger TE, Chisolm MS: Social media use in medical education: a systematic review. Acad Med 2013;88:893–901
6. Tunnecliff J, Weiner J, Gaida JE, et al.: Translating evidence to practice in the health professions: a randomized trial of Twitter vs Facebook. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2017;24:403–8
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