The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Orthopaedic Residency Program Social Media Utilization

Brendan M. Holderread, Jonathan Liu, Austin E. Wininger, Joshua D. Harris, Shari R. Liberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction:The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented challenge for orthopaedic surgery residency applicants when away rotations were canceled and interviews were held virtually. The authors hypothesized that (1) Instagram would have more total social media accounts compared with Twitter or Facebook, (2) most social media accounts on all platforms would be created during 2020, and (3) the average number of Instagram followers would be higher among highly ranked programs.Methods:A list of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited orthopaedic surgery residency programs (n = 202) that were ranked by reputation was acquired from Doximity. Public Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter profiles of orthopaedic surgery residency programs were identified through a manual search. Variables assessed on each social media platform were all available summary statistics provided by the social media platform. Instagram accounts were categorized into 5 tiers based on numeric reputation ranking, with 40 programs in each tier (except tier 5 with 42 programs). Descriptive statistics were calculated, and continuous data were presented as mean ± standard deviation. Goodness-of-fit regression values were calculated for observed trends.Results:One-hundred seventy-four social media accounts were identified. There was a higher percentage of Instagram accounts (66.1%) compared with Facebook (13.2%) or Twitter (20.7%). From 2010 to 2020, an exponential increase (R2= 0.88) of social media accounts was observed during 2020. Instagram profiles (77.2%, 98/115 [95 in 2020, 3 in 2021]) were created after the cancelation of away rotations in May 2020. Instagram profiles had 1,029 ± 522.4 average followers, more than Facebook and Twitter. Tier 1 residency programs had the largest average follower count with 1,462.4 ± 584.3 followers.Conclusion:Social media presence increased exponentially during 2020. Instagram was the social media platform with the most accounts. Many Instagram accounts were created during 2020, and most were created after away rotations were canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instagram accounts averaged the most followers. Top tier orthopaedic residency programs had a greater number of accounts and average followers than lower tier programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere21.00104
JournalJBJS Open Access
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 4 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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