Twitter Activity Is Associated With a Higher Research Citation Index for Academic Thoracic Surgeons
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BACKGROUND: Academic surgeons are encouraged to promote their work on social media. We hypothesized that thoracic surgeons who are active on Twitter have a higher research citation index (Hirsch index [h-index]) than their counterparts who are not. METHODS: Thoracic surgeons on CTSNet.org in Canada and the United States were queried for profiles with an h-index on Google Scholar and/or Research Gate in July 2018. Surgeons were categorized by whether they possessed a Twitter account (T+) or not (T-), and h-index values were compared. Within the T+ cohort a multivariate regression model was used to identify independent predictors of increased h-index among variables related to Twitter activity. RESULTS: Of 3741 surgeons queried, 19.3% (722) had a known h-index. The mean h-index for the entire cohort was 14.54 (SD, 15.73). The median h-index was 10 (range, 0-121), and the 75th percentile h-index was 20. T+ surgeons had a median h-index of 10 (range, 0-66), and T- surgeons had a median h-index of 10 (range, 0-72; P = .25). The 75th percentile h-index for T+ surgeons was 23 compared with 20 for T- surgeons (P = .24). For T+ surgeons the regression model identified the number of followers (P = .029), the number of people followed (P = .048), and the frequency of tweeting (P = .046) as independent predictors of a higher h-index. CONCLUSIONS: The median h-index for an academic thoracic surgeon in Canada and the United States is 10. Surgeons who engage in Twitter activity are more likely to have their research cited by others.