///2017 Abstract Details
2017 Abstract Details2019-08-02T15:54:53-06:00

Labor epidurals: a mixed method analysis of communication and themes on #SocialMedia

Abstract Number: T-45
Abstract Type: Original Research

Patricia A Doyle MD1 ; Ronald B George MD2


Labor epidurals are the gold standard for pain management during labor and delivery. The internet and social media are being increasingly used by the general population, including pregnant women and their families, as a health information resource and a forum to share their opinions and experiences.(1) The objective of our study is to characterize the communication that occurs on social media, specifically within Twitter news and social media platform, on the topic of labor epidurals. This study examines the frequency with which labor epidurals are discussed, which topics and themes dominate the discussion, what type of information is being shared, and what type of users are sharing the information.


This was a cross-sectional and prospective analysis of publicly available micro-posts or “tweets” from the Twitter social media platform on the topic of labor epidurals. Our mixed-method analysis uses both quantitative and qualitative analysis. “Epidural” in the English language was the search term after preliminary pilot searches, as it allowed for an adequate number of search results specific to the topic. We used the social media analytical software Netlytic© to collect the search result data. This software was programmed to retrieve the last 1000 results, starting on September 1, 2016, and then prospectively collect results every fifteen minutes for the next week. Results were manually screened, only those with specific reference to labor epidurals were further analyzed. Netlytic© analyzed and organized tweets into categories based on the keywords contained within them and to determine which users were the most common posters on the topic . We also determined how many posts contained an enhancement (link to article/website, or multimedia). Lastly, we determined whether the post was being re-shared or a “retweet”, i.e. Twitter knowledge dissemination.


We retrieved 2,224 total micro-posts on Twitter. After screening, 1,608 tweets reference labor epidurals. The number of unique users who tweeted on the topic of labor epidurals was 1,375. The dataset included 435 tweets that were disseminated. The most commonly retweeted post was shared 170 times. The dataset contained 338 tweets that contained publicly accessible enhancements. The most commonly used keywords determined through Netlytic© Software were song (n=173), pain (n=147), back (n=143), birth (n=127) and labor (n=117). The most common categories of tweets were tweets describing bad feelings (129 tweets), tweets describing good feelings (95 tweets), and tweets with a reference to time (52 tweets).


Social media and Twitter have served as platforms for communication on the topic of labor epidurals and this study has provided insight into the characteristics of this communication. Knowing what communication occurs on social media around the topic will help to tailor our patient education efforts.

1. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2016; 16: 65

SOAP 2017