Antidepressants: a content analysis of healthcare providers' tweets

Yijun Dong, Natalie M. Weir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background -- Antidepressants are the primary treatment for depression, and social support from social media may offer another support route. Whilst Twitter has become an interactive platform for healthcare providers and their patients, previous studies found low engagement of healthcare providers when discussing antidepressants on Twitter. This study aims to analyse the Twitter posts of healthcare providers related to antidepressants and to explore the healthcare providers' engagement and their areas of interest.

Method -- Tweets within a 10-day period were collected through multiple searches with a list of keywords within Twitter. The results were filtered against several inclusion criteria, including a manual screening to identify healthcare providers. A content analysis was conducted on eligible tweets where correlative themes and subthemes were identified.

Key findings -- Healthcare providers contributed 5.9% of the antidepressant-related tweets (n = 770/13,005). The major clinical topics referred to in the tweets were side effects, antidepressants for the treatment of COVID-19, and antidepressant studies of psychedelics. Nurses posted more tweets sharing personal experiences with commonly negative attitudes, in contrast to physicians. Links to external webpages were commonly used among healthcare providers, especially users representing healthcare organisations.

Conclusions -- A relatively low proportion of healthcare providers' engagement on Twitter regarding antidepressants (5.9%) was identified, with a minimal increase throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to previous studies. The major clinical topics referred to in the tweets were side effects, antidepressants for the treatment of COVID-19 and antidepressant studies of psychedelics, which have been made publicly available. In general, the findings confirmed that social media platforms are a mechanism by which healthcare providers, organisations and students support patients, share information about adverse drug effects, communicate personal experiences, and share research. It is plausible that this could impact the belief and behaviours of people with lived experience of depression who may see these tweets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100232
Number of pages9
JournalExploratory Research in Clinical and Social Pharmacy
Early online date10 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • antidepressants
  • social media
  • Twitter
  • content analysis
  • healthcare providers


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