Showing Some Spine on Reddit: Neurosurgical Spinal Cord Conditions in Adults

Jocelyn To, Victoria Jane Horak, Donia Momen, John Paul G. Kolcun, Sandi Lam, Jeffrey S. Raskin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: A crowdsourcing resource used by patients with spinal disease has yet to be thoroughly investigated: the Internet. One such platform is Reddit, a virtual, anonymous meeting place. Analyzing how patients use spinal condition “subreddits” may enable a greater understanding of the questions that patients do not ask their doctors. Methods: Up to 50 posts in each subreddit's “hot” tab were retroactively screened from June 1, 2022. Posts written by those who had the condition or those interested in knowing more were included. Redditors self-identifying as younger than 18 years were excluded. Posts were subcategorized into questions related to social advice, health advice, providing health education or suggesting equipment, detailing their personal experience, or researchers recruiting patients for research. Results: Eight subreddits with 398 posts were identified related to spinal conditions, including scoliosis, herniated disks, spondylolisthesis, kyphosis, spina bifida, and degenerative disk disease, and 2 subreddits for spinal cord injury. Most patients sought out health advice (59.8%), specifically related to questions regarding their treatments (33.6%), followed by social advice (14.1%) relating to activities in their daily lives. Six posts from the spinal cord injury subreddits discussed the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. Discussion: Patients with spinal conditions congregate on Reddit. Analysis of subreddits allows for a more robust fund of knowledge, granting providers an opportunity to address the main health concerns of patients and caregivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e467-e473
JournalWorld neurosurgery
Volume179
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Neurosurgery
  • Reddit
  • Social media
  • Spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery

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