Social Media Use Could Increase Public Awareness of Antimicrobial Stewardship


Investigators from the Washington State Department of Health set out to identify ways to leverage technology to increase public awareness of the importance of antimicrobial stewardship.

Antibiotic use is one of the major drivers of antibiotic resistance, with 80-90% of antibiotics being initiated in ambulatory settings. Research has shown that in ambulatory settings patient expectations increase the chance of a care provider prescribing antibiotics. However, most of the awareness and interventions around the judicious use of antibiotics is directed towards care providers who work in hospital settings.

Given this information, a team of investigators from the Washington State Department of Health set out to determine how to leverage social media to increase awareness of antibiotics to the general public. Their findings were presented in an oral abstract session at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's (APIC) Annual Conference, 2019.

The study, which was conducted between 2016-2018, used 6 scripted videos on a variety of topics- such as urinary tract infections, bronchitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis and acute otitis media- developed by a State Health Department. Videos were posted to online platforms and social media platforms were used to promote the videos. The first social platform that was used was a social media site, that allows for posts with and without paid advertising were. When using paid advertising, the cost was $20 per video. The social media platform was a video-only platform with no paid advertising.

The investigators found that videos posted to platform number 1 with paid advertising gained more traction than videos posted to platform number 2. In the video on pharyngitis, for example, when posted to platform number 1 netted a total of 3,455 views, while the same video posted on platform number 2 it netted only 285 views. On platform number 1, the video on sinusitis netted 2935 views, while the same video posted to platform number 2 only resulted in 144 views.

According to the abstract, each video posted on the first platform had an average of 21.2 times higher viewership when compared to the second platform (range 11.1, 31.3). Additionally, views were 3.4 times higher when comparing the first platform without the use of paid advertising to the second platform (range 2.8, 5).

“Utilizing a social media platform with multiple ways to post content resulted in the greatest viewership. Paid advertising increased viewership significantly. Reactions to the videos have been positive” the authors concluded.

The study, “Leveraging Technology to Increase Public Awareness of the Importance Antimicrobial Stewardship (ASR-4)” was presented on Wednesday, June 12 at APIC 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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