A picture tells a thousand words: A content analysis of concussion-related images online.

Research paper by Osman H OH Ahmed, Hopin H Lee, Laura L LL Struik

Indexed on: 18 Jun '16Published on: 18 Jun '16Published in: Physical Therapy in Sport


Recently image-sharing social media platforms have become a popular medium for sharing health-related images and associated information. However within the field of sports medicine, and more specifically sports related concussion, the content of images and meta-data shared through these popular platforms have not been investigated. The aim of this study was to analyse the content of concussion-related images and its accompanying meta-data on image-sharing social media platforms.We retrieved 300 images from Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr by using a standardised search strategy. All images were screened and duplicate images were removed. We excluded images if they were: non-static images; illustrations; animations; or screenshots. The content and characteristics of each image was evaluated using a customised coding scheme to determine major content themes, and images were referenced to the current international concussion management guidelines.From 300 potentially relevant images, 176 images were included for analysis; 70 from Pinterest, 63 from Flickr, and 43 from Instagram. Most images were of another person or a scene (64%), with the primary content depicting injured individuals (39%). The primary purposes of the images were to share a concussion-related incident (33%) and to dispense education (19%). For those images where it could be evaluated, the majority (91%) were found to reflect the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT3) guidelines.The ability to rapidly disseminate rich information though photos, images, and infographics to a wide-reaching audience suggests that image-sharing social media platforms could be used as an effective communication tool for sports concussion. Public health strategies could direct educative content to targeted populations via the use of image-sharing platforms. Further research is required to understand how image-sharing platforms can be used to effectively relay evidence-based information to patients and sports medicine clinicians.