Trending Tubes: A Social Media Analysis of Tympanostomy Tubes in Children

OTO Open. 2022 Mar 31;6(1):2473974X221086964. doi: 10.1177/2473974X221086964. eCollection 2022 Jan-Mar.


Objective: To investigate the popular social media platforms Instagram and Facebook for public posts related to tympanostomy tubes in children, to discern attitudes and perceptions surrounding tympanostomy tubes, and to evaluate the content of social media posts related to tympanostomy tubes.

Study design: Qualitative study.

Setting: Instagram and Facebook social media platforms.

Methods: Instagram and Facebook were searched for public posts from 2018 and 2019 including the search terms "ear tubes,""ear tube surgery,""tympanostomy," and "myringotomy." Posts were excluded if they were unrelated to pediatric tympanostomy tubes or written in a non-English language. Relevant posts underwent subgroup analysis based on 6 domains: media type, perspective, topic, timeframe, popularity, and overall tone.

Results: Of 1862 public social media posts, the majority (78.2%) were made by the patient's parents/caregivers and the rest by physicians (6.0%), hospitals (8.2%), and chiropractors (6.1%), with a few posts by the patients themselves (0.4%). The majority (79.3%) of posts portrayed tympanostomy tubes positively. Most negative posts were made by chiropractors (50.8%) and the patient's parents/caregivers (42.9%). The most common themes of posts were reassurance regarding surgery (74.9%), advertisements (12.5%), apprehension (12.4%), and education (10.3%).

Conclusion: Most social media posts were made by parents/caregivers in the perioperative period, and there was a low percentage of educational posts. This information could be used by otolaryngologists to optimize their interactions with patients and parents and to potentially increase physician involvement and educational material related to tympanostomy tubes on social media.

Keywords: child; communications media; middle ear ventilation; otitis media; perception; social media.