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Original research
Comparing ‘Twitter’ polls results with an online survey on surgeons perspectives for the treatment of rectal cancer
  1. Antonio Caycedo-Marulanda1,
  2. Sunil V Patel1,
  3. Chris P Verschoor2,
  4. Sami A Chadi3,
  5. Gabriela Möslein4,
  6. Manoj Raval5,
  7. Amy Lightner6,
  8. Manish Chand7,
  9. Rosa Jimenez-Rodriguez8,
  10. Joep Knol9,
  11. Yasuko Maeda10,
  12. John R T Monson11,
  13. Steven D Wexner12,
  14. Julio Mayol13
  1. 1 Surgery, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Research Institute, Health Sciences North, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Surgery, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 Surgery, University Witten Herdecke Faculty of Health, Witten, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
  5. 5 Surgery, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  6. 6 Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  7. 7 Surgery, University College London, London, London, UK
  8. 8 Surgery, Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocio, Sevilla, Andalucía, Spain
  9. 9 Department of Surgery, Jessa Ziekenhuis Campus Virga Jesse, Hasselt, Limburg, Belgium
  10. 10 Surgery, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  11. 11 Surgery, AdventHealth Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA
  12. 12 Colorectal Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston, Florida, USA
  13. 13 Surgery, Hospital Clinico Universitario San Carlos, Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Antonio Caycedo-Marulanda, Surgery, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 2V7, Canada; Antonio.Caycedo{at}


Introduction Traditional surveys (including phone, mail and online) can be valuable tools to obtain information from specific communities. Social media apps such as Twitter are being increasingly adopted for knowledge dissemination and research purposes. Twitter polls are a unique feature which allows for a rapid response to questions posed. Nonetheless Twitter does not constitute a validated survey technique. The objective was to compare the similarities of Twitter polls in describing practice patterns for the treatment of rectal cancer.

Methods A survey on the management of rectal cancer was designed using modified Delphi methodology. Surgeons were contacted through major colorectal societies to participate in an online survey. The same set of questions were periodically posted by influencers on Twitter polls and the results were compared.

Results A total of 753 surgeons participated in the online survey. Individual participation in Twitter ranged from 162 to 463 responses. There was good and moderate agreement between the two methods for the most popular choice (9/10) and the least popular choice (5/10), respectively.

Discussion It is possible that in the future polls available via social media can provide a low-cost alternative and an efficient, yet pragmatic method to describe clinical practice patterns. This is the first study comparing Twitter polls with a traditional survey method in medical research.

Conclusions There is viable opportunity to enhance the performance of research through social media, however, significant refinement is required. These results can potentially be transferable to other areas of medicine.

  • colorectal surgey
  • health
  • delivery of health care

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  • Twitter @caycedomarula

  • Contributors AC-M, SVP and JM planned the study. AC-M, SVP, SAC, MR, MC, JK, JRTM, SDW and JM designed the questions. All authors approved the content of the survey. AC-M, SVP, CPV, SDW and JM conducted the survey. All authors were actively involved in the Twitter phase of the study. AC-M, SVP, CPV and SAC performed the central analyses. All authors participated in writing the manuscript. All authors provided edits, comments and feedback until a final version of the draft was approved. AC-M submitted the study on behalf of the all authors.

  • Funding This manuscript has been self-funded by the authors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was centrally obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information.