The Role of Social Media and Internet Search Engines in Information Provision and Dissemination to Patients with Kidney Stone Disease: A Systematic Review from European Association of Urologists Young Academic Urologists

J Endourol. 2018 Aug;32(8):673-684. doi: 10.1089/end.2018.0319. Epub 2018 Jul 27.


Introduction: Kidney stone disease (KSD) affects millions of people worldwide and has an increasing incidence. Social media (SoMe) and search engines are both gaining in usage, while also being used by patients to research their conditions and aid in managing them. With this in mind, many authors have expressed the belief that SoMe and search engines can be used by patients and healthcare professionals to improve treatment compliance and help counseling and management of conditions such as KSD. We wanted to determine whether SoMe and search engines play a role in the management and/or prevention of KSD.

Materials and methods: The databases MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus, and Cochrane Library were used to search for relevant English language literature from inception to December 2017. Results were screened by title, abstract, and then full text, according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The data were then analyzed independently by the authors not involved in the original study.

Results: After initial identification of 2137 records and screening of 42 articles, 10 studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The articles included focused on a variety of SoMe forms, including two articles each on twitter, YouTube, smartphone apps, and Google search engine and one article on Google insights and Google analytics. Regarding patient centered advice, while two articles covered advice on dietary, fluid intake, and management options, two additional articles each covered advice on fluid advice and management options only, while no such advice was given by three of the SoMe published articles.

Conclusions: SoMe and search engines provide valuable information to patients with KSD. However, while the information provided regarding dietary aspects and fluid management was good, it was not comprehensive enough to include advice on other aspects of KSD prevention.

Keywords: diet; fluid; kidney stone disease; search engine; social media; urolithiasis.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Kidney Calculi / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Calculi / therapy*
  • Mobile Applications
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Search Engine*
  • Smartphone
  • Social Media*
  • Societies, Medical
  • Urologists
  • Urology / methods*