Following the crowd: patterns of crowdsourcing on Twitter among urologists

Kevin Koo, Kevin Shee, E. Ann Gormley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine patterns of crowdsourcing on the social media platform Twitter among urologists. Methods: Urologists’ public Twitter accounts were reviewed for original posts seeking clinical advice or feedback, and associated reply posts, before and after the 140-character-limit expansion in 2017. Predictors of responses to crowdsourcing requests were determined using multivariable regression. When patient data were posted, we noted whether consent was documented. Results: A total of 276 posts in 23 crowdsourcing requests prior to character-limit expansion were analyzed. Reasons for crowdsourcing included requesting solutions to a clinical dilemma (82 posts, 30%); advice seeking about a surgical plan (77 posts, 28%); surveying colleagues’ experiences with a new product (64 posts, 23%); and soliciting feedback about a proposed course of action (53 posts, 19%). Recent completion of training (as a proxy for inexperience) did not appear to disproportionately motivate crowdsourcing; authors’ median time in practice was 7 years, and authors practicing for ≤ 7 years initiated 57% of requests. 22 (96%) crowdsourcing requests received ≥ 1 reply. Of 15 requests about a specific patient, eight included imaging, but only one cited patient consent. A second analysis of 184 posts in 17 crowdsourcing requests initiated after character-limit expansion demonstrated significantly more authors replying per request (P = 0.01), but no change in the frequency of patient-specific crowdsourcing or citation of consent. Conclusions: Urologists are leveraging Twitter for crowdsourcing clinical guidance and experiential knowledge. Nearly all requests were answered, suggesting low barriers to entry for novice users. Even after character-limit expansion, dissemination of potentially identifiable patient data remains a concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Journal of Urology
StateAccepted/In press - Jul 16 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Crowdsourcing
  • Education
  • Internet
  • Social media
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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