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"This is what a concussion looks like": An evaluation of sports concussion-related images on popular image-sharing social networking sites
Upper Lobby
"This is what a concussion looks like": An evaluation of sports concussion-related images on popular image-sharing social networking sites
PhD Candidate, University of Otago, New Zealand
Concussion is a mild form of brain injury, and is common in sports such as football, hockey, and soccer. The prevalence of sports concussion, allied to the short-term and long-term consequences it can... Read more

Description

Concussion is a mild form of brain injury, and is common in sports such as football, hockey, and soccer. The prevalence of sports concussion, allied to the short-term and long-term consequences it can lead to, means that this condition is widely recognised as a major public health issue. Previous studies have highlighted the use of the World Wide Web to share concussion-related content, both on websites and on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These studies have indicated that there is a variety of user-generated content relating to sports concussion online, and that each of these social networking sites are being used in different ways to share sports concussion information. With online communities increasingly engaging with content-based social media, it is important for healthcare professionals to be aware of the information being shared by the public through these online platforms.

Social networking sites are specialized and focused towards various purposes. Whilst Twitter enables micro-blogging and YouTube is primarily a video-sharing website, more recently there has been an emergence of image-sharing platforms including Flickr, Instagram, and Pinterest. The use of image-sharing social networking sites is now widespread (with up to 80 million viewers per month for Flickr alone), and it has been reported that images related to medicine and health are being uploaded onto sites such as Pinterest. Whilst figures suggest that 30% of online health consumers who use Pinterest have encountered health/medical content through online browsing; to our understanding there has been no formal evaluation of sports concussion-related images on any image-sharing social networking site.

The purpose of this study is to use content analysis methodology to investigate sports concussion-related images shared on popular image-sharing sites (such as Flickr, Instagram, and Pinterest). A systematic search strategy will be employed to identify images related to sports concussion, with these images then classified into data-driven thematic categories (e.g. “depiction of a concussed athlete”) by a panel of researchers familiar with concussion and social media. Meta-information surrounding the images (including: “description”, “tags”, “number of views”) will be extracted, with other information for each image such as “comments”, “likes”, “favourites”, and “re-pins” also analysed. It is hoped that it will be possible to benchmark the data-driven themes against the current best-practice concussion guidelines, in order to explore the attitudes of online users towards sports concussion.

This preliminary exploration will enable a greater understanding of the nature of images related to sports concussion that are being disseminated on image-sharing social networking sites. It is anticipated that this content analysis will provide an introductory knowledge base with regards to how sports concussion-related images are being shared online. Implications of this research may lead to researchers, government agencies, and health organisations having a greater comprehension as to how concussion-related information is shared, and whether image-sharing online social networking sites have potential as a tool for facilitating sports concussion education at a public health level. The outcome of this study will also be of interest to the sports medicine community and other relevant fields.

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