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Zowawi, Malak, Mar, Rihab, Turki, Abdullah, Tiffany, Stephan, Balkhy, and Paterson: Social media platforms for raising awareness of appropriate antibiotics use in the Gulf Cooperation Council states

Introduction: The increasing emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria is a serious public health issue. Increasing the awareness of the general public about appropriate antibiotic use is a key factor for combating this problem.

Objectives: To investigate the potential role of social media networks as cost-efficient and mass education platforms to raise awareness of appropriate antibiotic use in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Materials and methods: Twitter was used in the awareness campaign delivering short ‘tweets’ and links to various articles and videos related to antibiotics and antibiotic resistance for our 19 000 + followers, mainly from the GCC countries. Educational videos were also created and posted on YouTube discussing the importance of antibiotics, how antibiotic resistance is created and the spread of ‘superbugs’ in the GCC. Advice on how to control antimicrobial resistance was also discussed.

Results: Analysis of 147 selected tweets resulted in > 4100 ‘retweets’ between July and November of 2013. The number of retweets correlated with the number of YouTube views that observed one of the videos. We also observed sporadic smaller peaks in YouTube views suggesting that the video was still drawing attention months after being posted. The other infographics video was retweeted 152 times and was viewed more than 3000 times within only 2 weeks.

Conclusions: Social media platforms seem to be a valuable platform for delivering antibiotic awareness messages. However, it is important to consider the high population of immigrant workers in the GCC who might not have access to these emerging social media platforms. Measuring the impact of the awareness campaign on the general public’s understanding and on slowing the increase in antibiotic resistance can be very difficult and will require further investigation.

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank our team members for their contribution.




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