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How Should Social Media Be Used in Transplantation? A Survey of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons

Henderson, Macey L., JD, PhD1,2; Adler, Joel T., MD, MPH3; Van Pilsum Rasmussen, Sarah E., BA1; Thomas, Alvin G., MSPH1; Herron, Patrick D., DBe4; Waldram, Madeleine M., BA1; Ruck, Jessica M., BS1; Purnell, Tanjala S., PhD, MPH1,5; DiBrito, Sandra R., MD1; Holscher, Courtenay M., MD1; Haugen, Christine E., MD1; Alimi, Yewande, MD1; Konel, Jonathan M., MHS1; Eno, Ann K., BS1; Garonzik Wang, Jacqueline M., MD, PhD1; Gordon, Elisa J., PhD, MPH6; Lentine, Krista L., MD, PhD7; Schaffer, Randolph L., MD8; Cameron, Andrew M., MD, PhD1; Segev, Dorry L., MD, PhD1,5

doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000002243
Original Clinical Science—General

Background. Social media platforms are increasingly used in surgery and have shown promise as effective tools to promote deceased donation and expand living donor transplantation. There is a growing need to understand how social media-driven communication is perceived by providers in the field of transplantation.

Methods. We surveyed 299 members of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons about their use of, attitudes toward, and perceptions of social media and analyzed relationships between responses and participant characteristics.

Results. Respondents used social media to communicate with: family and friends (76%), surgeons (59%), transplant professionals (57%), transplant recipients (21%), living donors (16%), and waitlisted candidates (15%). Most respondents (83%) reported using social media for at least 1 purpose. Although most (61%) supported sharing information with transplant recipients via social media, 42% believed it should not be used to facilitate living donor-recipient matching. Younger age (P = 0.02) and fewer years of experience in the field of transplantation (P = 0.03) were associated with stronger belief that social media can be influential in living organ donation. Respondents at transplant centers with higher reported use of social media had more favorable views about sharing information with transplant recipients (P < 0.01), increasing awareness about deceased organ donation (P < 0.01), and advertising for transplant centers (P < 0.01). Individual characteristics influence opinions about the role and clinical usefulness of social media.

Conclusions. Transplant center involvement and support for social media may influence clinician perceptions and practices. Increasing use of social media among transplant professionals may provide an opportunity to deliver high-quality information to patients.

1Department of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

2Department of Acute and Chronic Care, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD.

3Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

4Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.

5Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD.

6Department of Surgery-Division of Transplantation, Center for Healthcare Studies, Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL.

7Center for Abdominal Transplantation, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.

8Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, Scripps Clinic/Green Hospital, La Jolla, CA.

Received 21 December 2017. Revision received 19 March 2018.

Accepted 7 April 2018.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) grant numbers K01DK114388-01 (PI: Henderson), F32DK105600 (PI: DiBrito), 4R01DK096008-04 (PI: Segev), and 5K24DK101828-03 (PI: Segev), 1F32DK109662-01 (PI: Holscher), National Institute of Aging 1F32AG053025-01A1 (PI: Haugen) and by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) grant number K01HS024600 (PI: Purnell), the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Research Mentorship grant (Dorry Segev and Jessica Ruck); and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) grant numbers K23DK115908-01 (PI: Garonzik-Wang) and 5R01DK111966-02 (PI: Cameron).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

M.L.H., J.T.A., E.J.G., R.L.S., J.M.W., K.L.L., T.S.P., A.M.C., D.L.S. participated in research design. M.L.H., J.T.A., S.E.V., and A.G.T. participated in the performance of the research. M.L.H., J.T.A., S.E.V., and A.G.T. participated in data analysis. M.L.H., J.T.A., S.E.V., A.G.T., P.D.H., M.M.W., J.M.R., T.S.P., S.R.D., C.M.H., C.E.H., Y.A., J.M.K., A.K.E., J.M.W., E.J.G., K.L.L., R.L.S., A.M.C., and D.L.S. participated in the writing of the article. ORCID: Henderson 0000-0002-4239-1252, Adler 0000-0001-8190-3444, Van Pilsum Rasmussen 0000-0002-4644-3590, Thomas 0000-0003-4911-8192, Herron 0000-0002-4702-8620, Waldram 0000-0001-5706-4353, Ruck 0000-0002-5749-5505, DiBrito 0000-0003-4252-7065, Holscher 0000-0002-5808-5954, Haugen 0000-0001-5884-2604, Garonzik Wang 0000-0002-2789-7503, Gordon 0000-0003-0969-1998, Lentine 0000-0002-9423-4849, Segev 0000-0002-1924-4801.

The interpretation and reporting of these data are the responsibility of the author(s) and in no way should be seen as an official policy of or interpretation by United Network for Organ Sharing or the U.S. Government.

Supplemental digital content (SDC) is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text, and links to the digital files are provided in the HTML text of this article on the journal’s Web site (

Correspondence: Macey L. Henderson, JD, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 2000 E. Monument Street Baltimore, MD 21205. (

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