Allergists increase Twitter use 470% in one year - 25 allergists reached 250,000 individuals from #AAAAI meeting

Here are our 2 research posters and abstracts:

Rapid Growth of Twitter Use by Allergists and Immunologists for Professional Purposes: 470% increase (more than 4-fold) in Twitter use by allergists in one year

Nana Fenny MD MPH (1), Vesselin Dimov MD (2), Raoul Wolf MD (2); Section of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (2), Departments of Internal Medicine (1) and Pediatrics, University of Chicago. Published in Annals of Allergy and Immunology, 2012.


Twitter is a fast growing social network and microblogging site. Physicians use the medium to educate the public and patients as well as share new studies and garner opinions on new advances in the field from their colleagues.


- Identify the largest directory of allergists and immunologist on Twitter.
- Evaluate the characteristics of use including medical/allergy specific content.
- Analyze interconnections among allergists.
- Describe and evaluate the response garnered from their followers on Twitter.


- Small sample size
- Short study duration


Comparison of allergists and immunologist use of Twitter during one-year period (May 2011 to May 2012). Descriptive characteristics from the public profile pages of self-identified allergists/immunologists were extracted. Snowball sampling strategy with the search terms “allergists, immunologists, allergy, asthma, wheeze, sneeze”. We also searched Twitter lists compiled by individual users that were identified from the Twitter keyword searches. Accounts representing organizations or physician practices rather than individual allergists were excluded. Protected and non-English language accounts were also excluded. The most recent 20 Twitter updates (tweets) of each individual account were included in the final analysis.


85 self-identified allergists were identified on Twitter in 2012 compared to 18 identified in the prior 2011 study. This represents a 470% increase (more than 4-fold) in Twitter use by allergists in one year. Most allergists were located in the USA (91%), used their personal name (95%) and had a profile picture (84%). There were 66 allergy-related organizations identified on Twitter. 80% of the allergists had more than 50 followers. 64% followed more than 50 users, 79% had more than 20 tweets. 78% of the allergists followed at least one allergist.

Rapid Growth of Twitter Use by Allergists and Immunologists for Professional Purposes: 470% increase (more than 4-fold) in Twitter use by allergists in one year:

Proportion of Tweets by Content

Of the 1307 tweets analyzed:

- 49% were allergy-related
- 12% were general health-related
- 31% were personal communications
- 4% were retweets (post of tweets by other users)
- 52% contained links

We did not find evidence of unprofessional conduct in the analyzed Twitter updates.

Proportion of Tweets by Content:


Twitter, a popular social network and free microblogging service, is being rapidly adopted by allergists, with 470% growth in one year.

Future studies should focus on best practices of Twitter use for patient and physician education by individual allergist and specialty organizations.


Lulic I, Kovic I. Analysis of emergency physicians’ twitter accounts.Emerg Med J 2012. Published online 25 May 2012.
Fenny N, Dimov V, Wolf R et al. Characteristics of the Professional Use of the Social Network Twitter by Allergists and Immunologists. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2011;107, Issue 5, Supplement, Pages A1-A137.
Chreitin K et al. Physicians on Twitter. Journal of the American Medical Asssociation, February 9, 2011 -Vol 305, No. 6 p566-568
Dimov, V, Parks K et al. The utility of an online social network service for professional collaboration and education in allergy and immunology. Annals of Allergy,Asthma and Immunology. November 2009 - Vol 103, A 126
Dimov, V, et al. The utility of weblog to stay current with the new developments in allergy and Immunology. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. November 200Vol 103, A 127

Tweeting the Meeting: Investigating Twitter Activity at the 2012 AAAAI Conference: 25 allergists expanded the educational reach of the 2012 AAAAI annual meeting to 250,000 individuals

Neha Mehrotra, MD (1); Ves Dimov, MD (2); 1. Internal Medicine Residency Program; 2. Section of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, University of Chicago. Published in JACI, 2013.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) has increased its efforts to use social media to disseminate medical information from its annual meetings. Microblog service Twitter can be used to accomplish this goal. This study investigated the use of Twitter during the 2012 AAAAI meeting, labeled with the hashtag #AAAAI.


Twitter search was performed for March 2-6, 2012 (dates of 2012 annual conference) using the search term #AAAAI to gather messages (tweets) posted during the conference. The # symbol (hashtag) is used to mark keywords or topics and is a way to categorize messages, thus allowing messages to be searched and followed by others. Content analysis classified each tweet into 8 categories: fact, reply, status update, retweet, link, opinion, query, and advertisement. The site searches the extent of exposure data for tweets. This search was used to estimate the number of individuals who read the tweets, a measure of the number of people the information was disseminated to.

Twitter Analysis and Results

The 2012 AAAAI meeting had 5,041 registered delegates and 25 allergists (0.49% of the attendees) used Twitter to publish 2,650 tweets. Their tweets reached 250,000 people based on the results of TweetReach, nearly 50 times the number of people who attended the meeting. Based on the content analysis of the tweets, the most common category of tweet was facts with 1,397 (52.7%) tweets. Additionally, 7.2% (192) tweets were facts that included link to support the information provided. Remaining tweets were broken down into 366 (13.8%) replies, 274 (10.3%) status updates, 219 (8.2%) retweets, 112 (4.2%) opinions, 46 (1.7%) queries and 25 (0.9%) advertisements.

Tweeting the Meeting: Investigating Twitter Activity at the 2012 AAAAI Conference: 52.7% of tweets were facts, 7.2% included link to support the information provided:


A small subset of 25 allergists expanded the educational reach of the 2012 AAAAI annual meeting to 250,000 individuals. A large number of educational tweets were disseminated to the public. The large majority of tweets were factual and professional. Social media, and Twitter in particular, are an effective method of disseminating medical information to health care professionals and the public. A more organized approach and improved participation among attendees could further increase awareness of the new developments in allergy and immunology in cost-effective and time-efficient manner.

Future Research

Future research will be directed at the use of Twitter at the 2013 AAAAI conference to determine if Twitter use has increased/decreased. The content analysis could categorize tweets by topic as well as the previously used categories to identify topics which are most frequently discussed and perhaps gauge the interest of the audience at the conference and worldwide. This information could be used to guide future speakers and lectures topics for upcoming conferences as well as identify areas of interest for potential research projects. The role of Twitter as a tool to collaborate research efforts from multiple institutions could be investigated.


1. Desai T, Shariff Afreen, Shariff Aabid, et al. Tweeting the Meeting: An In-Depth Analysis of Twitter Activity at Kidney Week 2011. PLoS ONE. 2012;7:1-9. Available at:
2. Twitter. Available at:
3. TweetReach. Available at:
4. Chretien, KC. Physicians on Twitter. JAMA, 2011; 305 (6): 566-8.

Allergists who are planning to use Twitter from 2013 #AAAAI meeting (list open for edit, add your own info)

This is a list of the allergists who are planning to use Twitter to post updates from the 2013 #AAAAI meeting. The list is open for edit, please feel free to add your own info.

The hashtag for the meeting is #AAAAI

The hashtag for the 2013 annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is #AAAAI

Type #AAAAI in Twitter Search box to find all recent updates from 2013 #AAAAI:!/search-home

Social media in medicine: How to be a Twitter rock star and help your patients and your practice

I will be presenting a talk and a seminar during the 2013 AAAAI meeting (PDF of the program) on the topic of social media use in healthcare. Feel free to join us, and ask any questions:

Friday, February 22
Course 1212: Technology in the Clinical Practice Made Ridiculously Simple
9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Convention Center, Concourse Level, Room 214BC
10:50 Social Media Tools for Marketing and Communications

Monday, February 25
Seminar 4012: The Use of Social Media in Your Practice
Marriott Rivercenter, Third Floor, Conference Room 10

There will be the fist ever tweetup (meeting) in real life of the tweeting allergists during the 2013 AAAAI and you can sign up here:

In my personal experience, blogging fits nicely in what I call the Cycle of Online Information and Physician Education (click here to enlarge the image).


The impact of social media on a major international emergency medicine conference -- Neill et al. -- Emergency Medicine Journal
PLOS ONE: Tweeting the Meeting: An In-Depth Analysis of Twitter Activity at Kidney Week 2011
Tweeting the Meeting: Investigating Twitter Activity At the 2012 AAAAI Conference - Disclaimer: I am one of the authors.

Comments from Twitter:

Chris Carroll MD MS @ChrisCarrollMD: The power of digital communication! MT @MGKatz036 @DavidMayMD: 25 tweeting docs reach 250k!

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