3:05 - 3:25 pmSaturday, September 28
LK 120
Engaging the physician community through an online interactive forum on the website of a general medical journal
LK 120
Engaging the physician community through an online interactive forum on the website of a general medical journal
Editorial Fellow, New England Journal of Medicine; Instructor, Harvard Medical School
Background Medical journals have historically fulfilled a role in the scientific community as resources for disseminating information. Peer-reviewed research and expert commentary are broadcast to readership... Read more

Description

Background

Medical journals have historically fulfilled a role in the scientific community as resources for disseminating information. Peer-reviewed research and expert commentary are broadcast to readership primarily in a unidirectional manner. Readers do have the opportunity to write letters in response to journal articles, however, publication of such letters usually occurs months after the appearance of the original article and space limits the number of letters. We describe a novel method of engaging the physician community in a more interactive fashion via the website of a general medical journal.

Methods

We analyzed the Clinical Decisions series in the New England Journal of Medicine over the time period 2012-2013. In this series a case vignette is presented which highlights an area of controversy in medicine, and two or more experts present opposing viewpoints on the topic. Readers of the journal, both of print and online, are then directed to the web page where they can share their own thoughts by posting comments and voting. Comments and voting results are evaluated, summarized and published in follow-up for each article. To complete our analysis of Clinical Decisions we obtained data from NEJM.org including all comments, votes, and page views between 2012-2013.

Results

There were 6 Clinical Decisions articles during the time period April 2012-March 2013. Topics were pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, PSA screening for prostate cancer, government regulation of sugar-sweetened beverages, mammography screening for breast cancer, medicinal use of marijuana, and family presence during CPR. On average 91 individuals shared comments and 1117 participated in voting for each article. In 2012 Clinical Decisions articles received an average of 36,300 online views, more than the average for other article types at NEJM.org (21,522 for original research articles, 32,572 for review articles, and 16,165 for perspective articles). Greater than 50% of page views and votes were from individuals outside of the United States. Analysis of the voting and commentary allows one to construct both a quantitative and qualitative picture of physician views on major controversies in medicine. Furthermore, geographic analysis of these data can help describe major variation in clinical thought in different regions of the globe.

Conclusions

The interactive online article series “Clinical Decisions” is the most viewed article type on the website of a major general medical journal. This finding suggests that readers of medical journals in the 21st century are eager for opportunities to more actively engage with clinically relevant content. Furthermore, the information shared by readers through commenting and voting allows for robust quantitative and qualitative analysis of physician opinions on topics of wide interest to the medical community.

James Colbert, MD is an academic general internal medicine physician with research interests in medical education, technology and social media. He is a member of the Division of Medical Communication at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He works clinically on the inpatient medicine service at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. He also serves as a mentor at Healthbox where he advises entrepreneurs in developing innovative solutions to better care for patients with chronic disease. During 2012-2013 he worked as an editorial fellow at the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Colbert attended Harvard College and Stanford Medical School, and he completed residency training at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA.

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