The utility of Twitter as a tool for increasing reach of research on sexual violence
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Researchers in violence prevention areas seek to disseminate work for impact to practice and policy. Knowledge transfer, exchange, and mobilization are common terms for research knowledge utilization where public communication platforms are playing an increasing role, having unique capacity to connect stakeholders in advocacy and lived experience, academia, non-governmental organizations, government-supported organizations, such as child welfare, and research funding bodies. Social networking platforms provide a communication intervention opportunity to test the effectiveness of the research reach. A Canadian Institutes of Health Research- funded team grant in boys' and men's health, focusing on sexual violence (SV) victimization, health, and resilience undertook an evaluation to examine whether a strategic approach involving a cadre of SV experts (n = 46) and their research increased engagement. Using a unique identifier (#CIHRTeamSV) content was shared on social media (Twitter) within an ABABAB experimental monthly format (A = no sharing; B = sharing content), following a baseline entry of researchers. Active Twitter engagement lead to increases in the number of individuals' profile views, article downloads, and citations. These findings encourage further research into the utility of social media for disseminating sexual violence research, and that social media has developed as a forum for evidence-based conversation on sensitive topics of public health import.
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