Abstract: Purpose Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAMed) is a worldwide social media movement designed to accelerate and democratise the sharing of medical knowledge. This study sought to investigate the content shared through FOAMed during the emerging COVID-19 pandemic.
Study design Tweets containing the #FOAMed hashtag posted during a 24-hour period in April 2020 were studied. Included tweets were analysed using the Wiig knowledge management cycle framework (building knowledge, holding knowledge, pooling knowledge and using knowledge).
Results 1379 tweets contained the #FOAMed hashtag, of which 265 met the inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. Included tweets were posted from 208 distinct users, originated from each world continent and were in five different languages. Three overarching themes were identified: (1) signposting and appraising evidence and guidelines; (2) sharing specialist and technical advice; and (3) personal and social engagement. Among 12 subthemes within these groupings, 11 aligned to one of the four dimensions of the Wiig knowledge management cycle framework, and the other focused on building and managing social networks. Almost 40% of tweets related directly to COVID-19.
Conclusion #FOAMed tweets during the COVID-19 pandemic included a broad range of resources, advice and support. Despite the geographical, language and disciplinary variation of contributing users and the lack of organisational structure uniting them, this social media medical community has been able to construct, share and use emerging technical knowledge through a time of extraordinary challenge and uncertainty for the global medical community.
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