An occasionally irregular blog about orthodontics

Does Social Media help communication in orthodontics?

By on August 10, 2015 in Recent posts, Trials with 3 Comments
Does Social Media help communication in orthodontics?

Does Social Media help communication in Orthodontics?

This post is about communication via social media and its potential vital role in orthodontic care.  This is becoming an increasingly important area of research because of the explosion in the use of social media.   I am sure that we are all aware of this by simply looking in our waiting rooms to see that most of our patients, and parents, are glued to their phones while they are waiting.  I’m basing this post on a very interesting paper from a team based in London, South of England.  This is a completely different area to the North of England, which I mentioned in my previous post about self ligation.

A sophisticated day out for the London based team

A sophisticated day out for the London based team







Effect of social media in improving knowledge among patients having fixed appliance orthodontic treatment: A single-center randomized controlled trial.

Fadi M. Al-Silwadi, Daljit S. Gill, Aviva Petrie, and Susan J. Cunningham: London, United Kingdom

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2015;148:231-7 DOI: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2015.03.029

They carried out a randomised trial to measure the effect of social media on patient knowledge.

In the introduction they stress the importance of good communication and point out that this may lead to improved compliance. They set out to answer this question.

“Whether presenting information, through a YouTube video, to orthodontic patients improves their knowledge about caring for their teeth and appliances’.

What did they do?

They carried out an RCT on a group of  participants who they randomly allocated to either an intervention or control group. All participants were 13 years and above who had just been fitted with  fixed appliances.

The patients in the intervention group were given routine verbal and written information. They then sent them three emails over a period of six weeks asking them to view a YouTube video that they developed for  the study. This included information about the care of their teeth and fixed appliances.  Patients in the control group received the same verbal information but did not receive any emails directing them to the  video. Importantly, the you Tube video was unlisted and could only be accessed through the email link. As a result, patients in the control group could not access the video.

All the participants completed a questionnaire, measuring their knowledge on dental health etc, on the day of bond up.  They then completed an identical questionnaire six weeks later.

They calculated the sample size using data from  a pilot study. Randomisation and allocation concealment was good. All researchers were blinded to the allocation. They carried out an appropriate multivariate analysis.

What did they find?

They presented their data very clearly. Most of the patients completed the study and  baseline data revealed that the allocation was balanced.

This statistical analysis showed that patients who were asked to look at the video, scored almost one point higher on the second questionnaire than those in the control group. The participants in the intervention group watched the video three times.

In the discussion they pointed out that the difference between the groups represented a 6% increase level knowledge. They felt that this may be large enough to positively impact on the outcome of orthodontic treatment.

They also pointed out that this trial was only used in one centre and therefore may not have good generalisability.

What did I think?

This was a very simple and well-written study using appropriate methodology. It does provide very useful information and I would certainly like to see the YouTube video. I wonder if the investigators could post a link in the comments section? However, I appreciate that there may be complex issues of copyright involved.

I would be really interested to see if the use of the video had an effect on the final outcome of the  treatment. At present, the team have only reported on a proximal, or surrogate, outcome which may not translate into a final outcome, such as decalcification or the quality  of treatment.

I have looked on the internet for similar videos and found these. I would like to point out that I am not endorsing any of them, I have put them in as examples!  But this simply illustrates the amount of work that has been already done in this area.

Dr Sharma, from the USA, has prepared this professional film

Dr Powell, again from the USA, has done this one, it is less professional, but it has been watched over 200,000 times

Dr Yang, has prepared several orthodontic videos, and has had nearly £1m hits on this one.

In summary, this was a really interesting study that showed social media may be used to help patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. This is an area which needs much more investigation, as we all know that our patients are almost constantly using some form of social media as their main method of communication and even knowledge acquisition.  I would particularly like to see work done with experts on health education to identify the best content and form of delivery of these interventions.  These also make great Masters projects, as they may be straightforward projects that lead to some patient benefit.

From a personal point my use of social media and this blog has certainly galvanised my career, which some may say is a good thing?
Al-Silwadi, F., Gill, D., Petrie, A., & Cunningham, S. (2015). Effect of social media in improving knowledge among patients having fixed appliance orthodontic treatment: A single-center randomized controlled trial American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, 148 (2), 231-237 DOI: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2015.03.029

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There Are 3 Comments

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  1. Lysle Johnston says:

    I hate to be picky, but it’s “do the social media….” Alternatively, it could be “does the social medium…”

    • Kevin O'Brien says:

      Hi Lysle, thanks for the correction. English was never my strong point. I will change it. but this is easier said than done because the page title is set out to be detected by search engines etc. As a result, the speed of my changes is restricted by the social media or social medium?
      Best wishes: Kevin

  2. This is a very interesting study Dr. Kevin sir. I am looking forward to do one in India.

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