(HealthDay News) — Researchers remain uncertain about the use of social media to communicate their findings to policy makers, according to research published online June 6 in Health Affairs.

David Grande, MD, MPA, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a survey of health policy researchers about use of social media and two traditional channels (traditional media and direct outreach) to disseminate research findings to policy makers.

The researchers found that researchers rated the efficacy of the three dissemination methods similarly. However, social media was rated lower than the other two in three domains: (1) researchers’ confidence in their ability to use the method; (2) peers’ respect for its use; and (3) how it is perceived in academic promotion. In the past year, only 14% of participants reported tweeting and 21% reported blogging about their research or related health policy. Researchers negatively described social media as being incompatible with research, of high risk professionally, of uncertain efficacy, and an unfamiliar technology that they did not know how to use.

“Researchers will need evidence-based strategies, training, and institutional resources to use social media to communicate evidence,” conclude the authors.

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