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A 6-month study reported in the journal, Translational Behavioral Medicine,1 shows that Twitter users lost more weight than did those using Facebook, podcasts, or Smartphone apps for remote support. In fact, data reflected that for every 10 tweets sent by participants a 0.5% weight loss was observed.


The study was designed to help determine which form of remote social support was most helpful for those attempting to lose weight. The researchers speculated that Twitter users lost more weight because the resource was more anonymous than Facebook, allowing more candid questions. Also, posting multiple tweets throughout each day allowed support and feedback at the time participants needed it. Brie Turner-McGrievy of the University of South Carolina noted that, using Twitter, participants going into a restaurant could "...tweet the group to see what they think" and then receive immediate feedback before ordering a meal.


Public health researchers have determined that social media, including Twitter and Facebook, can be helpful in managing healthcare issues such as tracking flu outbreak or communicating critical information during emergencies. Also, social media allows contact with busy people who may not be able to schedule face-to-face meetings with support groups or healthcare providers. Turner-McGrievy emphasizes that using social media moves public healthcare providers away from the a "one-size-fits-all approach."


A 2011 Pew Internet and American Life Project Survey found that 65% of adults use some type of Internet social networking site or tool.1 Nurses would be wise to develop and evaluate the use of social media as a tool they can use to support and enhance patient care.



1. Turner-McGrievy G, Tate D. Weight loss social support in 140 characters or less: use of an online social network in remotely delivered weight loss intervention [published online ahead of print January 2013]. Transl Behav Med. Available at Accessed on March 13, 2013.


Source: Currie D. Online-only: posting to Twitter can help users shed pounds, study finds. March 1, 2013. The Nation's Health. Available at Accessed March 1, 2013.


Submitted by: Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL, News Editor