Evaluation of Parental Perspectives and Concerns about Pediatric Tonsillectomy in Social Media

Tai Kyung Hairston, Anne R. Links, Vandra Harris, David E. Tunkel, Jonathan Walsh, Mary Catherine Beach, Emily F. Boss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Importance: Tonsillectomy is common in children, but little is known about parental preferences and values concerning this surgical procedure. Twitter offers an opportunity to evaluate parental understanding and experience of tonsillectomy care. Objective: To identify parental perspectives about tonsillectomy in children that may not be apparent in a routine clinical encounter. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this qualitative study, social media platform Twitter was searched for posts (tweets) published between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2017, by US-based parents about their child's tonsillectomy. Modified grounded theory was applied to develop a coding taxonomy to classify the tweets. Tweets were assessed for thematic synthesis and classification, and descriptive statistics were obtained for each theme. Main Outcomes and Measures: Themes of parental experiences and perspectives about their child's tonsillectomy. Results: Of the 5801 total tweets retrieved, 782 (13.5%) satisfied the inclusion criteria. Tweets were categorized under 2 overarching themes: procedural concerns (549 tweets [70.2%]) and attitudes or experiences (498 [63.7%]). Common tweets under procedural concerns mentioned surgical indication for tonsillectomy (55 tweets [7.0%]); eg, "strep-I think it's tonsil removing time.") and recovery (227 tweets [29.0%]), including child's attitude (89 tweets [11.4%]; eg, "so hard to get my daughter to eat") and parental experience (87 tweets [11.1%]; eg, "tonsillectomy recovery sucks for the parent as much as the kid!"). Common tweets regarding attitudes or experiences included the tenor of overall care (225 tweets [28.6%]; eg, "Tonsillectomy is a bear") and fears or apprehensions (209 tweets [26.6%]). Conclusions and Relevance: These social media findings may be used to guide clinicians in educating and counseling parents as well as further engaging parents and children in shared decision making for tonsillectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-52
Number of pages4
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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