Twitter Accounts Followed by Congressional Health Staff

In American Journal of Managed Care, David Grande and colleagues, including Zachary Meisel and Raina Merchant, assess who Congressional health policy staff follow on Twitter. While health policy research should inform policymaking, the communication gap between researchers and policymakers limits successful translation. Social media represents a new opportunity to connect researchers and policymakers. The authors measured Congressional health policy staff’s use of Twitter and the types of individuals and organizations they follow. To focus on more influential Twitter accounts, they restricted their sample to accounts followed by at least three individual Congressional staff members. They find that of the 1,273 policy-related accounts followed by three or more staff members, only 2.4 percent were academically affiliated and 5.6 percent explicitly health related. Most influential accounts were general news media sources, and political and governmental sources. The authors conclude that health-related and academic sources are largely absent from the Twitter experience of U.S. Congressional health policy staff. Even within social media, traditional and political news media are important targets for research dissemination.