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Local Health Departments Beginning to Use Twitter
More than half of departments with Twitter accounts tweet about diabetes

MONDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- Fifty-eight percent of local health departments (LHDs) using Twitter for communications tweet about diabetes, according to a study published online May 2 in Preventing Chronic Disease.

Jenine K. Harris, Ph.D., from Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues used NVivo 10 to collect all tweets ever posted (through June 2012) from every LHD with a Twitter account to identify tweets about diabetes. LHD characteristics were assessed using data from the 2010 National Association of County and City Health Officials survey.

The researchers found that based on the 217 LHDs with Twitter accounts, 126 had ever tweeted about diabetes, with three diabetes tweets being the median since adopting Twitter. Those LHDs tweeting about diabetes tended to be in jurisdictions with larger populations and had more staff and higher spending compared to LHDs not tweeting about diabetes. Additionally, those that tweeted about diabetes were significantly more likely to employ a public information specialist and provide programs in diabetes-related areas. The jurisdiction's diabetes rate was weakly positively associated with the percentage of all tweets that were about diabetes (P = 0.049).

"LHDs are beginning to use social media to educate and inform their constituents about diabetes," the authors write. "An understanding of the reach and effectiveness of social media could enable public health practitioners to use them more effectively."

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