Social media in physiotherapy undergraduate education: who's tweeting?

N. Depala, Gerard Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Relevance: Social Media plays a significant role in physiotherapy practice in areas such as education, research and clinical practice. Engaging international clinicians, researchers and students in social media can aid physiotherapy teaching. There is a vibrant international student physiotherapy community on twitter and the University of Leicester twitter feed (@UOLPhysio) was one of the earliest to be established. Purpose: The main aim of this research was to evaluate how UK BSc Physiotherapy students were using the @UOLPhysio twitter feed. Results can then help University lecturers to guide students regarding online learning, enable them to encourage correct use of social media as a learning tool and encourage physiotherapy students to interact with the international physiotherapy community on twitter, sharing ideas and knowledge. There is a developing evidence base which shows good outcomes for use of twitter in education. However there are a limited number of specific studies for use of twitter in BSc Physiotherapy Education. This study was conducted to evaluate how students were using the twitter feed. Approach/evaluation: In order to establish how students were using the Twitter feed, the interactions of the students following the UOLPhysio feed were analysed. The analytic twitter tool, Twitonomy was used to analyse key aspects of the feed, Aspects such as interactions with other physiotherapy members, participation in established physiotherapy forums and use of physiotherapy Hashtags were analysed. The analytic tool allowed quantified date to be put into graphs to establish key findings. Due to the significant findings that student interaction was great, the Coventry University physiotherapy Twitter feed was later established to benefit their students. Outcomes: The group is well established with members from universities, the CSP and the WCPT. There is regular interaction with following members, allowing students to ask questions and share resources to facilitate learning. Since the creation of this feed, there are now 368 followers, 591 retweets, 35 external physio related links posted by clinicians, 572 different user mentions and 336 physio related tweets favorited. The analytics tool shows that the most popular Hashtag on the feeds are #Physiotalk #physio15 and #mdtchat, showing that students are using the feed to facilitate discussion. Discussion and conclusions: In conclusion twitter has an increasing presence in the field of physiotherapy. Redfern et al. (2013) highlights the increasing growth and reach of Twitter. Social technologies such as Twitter have the ability to complement and modernise physiotherapy education by adding interactive and collaborative dimensions, thus implementing this in a BSc course should be considered. This basic study shows that twitter has positive effects. Impact and implications: Future generation of physiotherapists will use technologies such as twitter and integrate them into their daily lives. Thus they will expect it as part of their learning and as a result the quality of our twitter accounts will become more important. This study forms the basis to future research regarding the effectiveness and importance of twitter use in a B.Sc. Physiotherapy course. Current and immediate impact twitter has had: • Students have developed confidence in interaction. • Students have used social media for their dissertations to link with experts. • Supports prospective students.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberPOS052
Issue numberSupplement 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

This is a published abstract only. The abstract is of a paper given at The 4th European Congress of the European Region of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (ER-WCPT) Abstracts, Liverpool, UK, 11-12 November 2016


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