Hospital Social Media Activity Did Not Reflect Support of Black Community, Social Justice

A study looking at about 10 years of tweets from the top 100 ranked hospitals in the United States showed a “low signal of tweets regarding the Black community and social justice”.

According to the study authors, this lack of social media engagement suggests that “hospitals should consider how their social communication habits portray their commitment to a community.”

The retrospective study looked at tweets from the top 100 ranked hospitals from May 3, 2009 to June 26, 2020. The date of the George Floyd killing (May 25, 2020) was also a point of interest. They identified tweets based on four categories: Black Lives Matter (BLM); Black support, expressed support for the Black population; Black health; or social justice. In all, 281,850 tweets from 90 social media accounts were collected.

Each social media handle returned at least 1,279 tweets with the majority (94.4%) returning at least 3,000 tweets. Of all the tweets included, less than 1% (0.0097%) from 67 handles used a hashtag to support the BLM movement.

Only four tweets (1.5%) predated the killing of George Floyd. The most common hashtags used for these tweets included #GeorgeFloyd and four variations of #BlackLivesMatter. A similar trend was observed for the other categories investigated. Tweets for Black support were found for 0.086% of tweets from 42 handles; for Black health, 0.0099% from 15 handles; and social justice 0.014% from 21 handles.

“Institutions may consider ongoing use of social justice hashtags to be outside their scope or overly political, but hospitals can powerfully leverage social justice to demonstrate concern for the health and well-being of the Black members of the communities they serve,” the researchers wrote. “Whether intentional or not, these top hospitals are not communicating nor demonstrating outwardly that they care about issues and concerns specific to the Black community. Because of this, Black communities may not feel represented at top hospitals.”