Short Research Article
Introducing the global medical community to the information presented at local scientific conferences through nephrology blogs [v1; ref status: indexed, http://f1000r.es/QYl7QV]
Tejas Desai1, Xiangming Fang2, Maria Ferris3
Author affiliations
Grant information: The author(s) declared that no grants were involved in supporting this work.
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Abstract

An increasing number of healthcare providers author medical blogs (bloggers) to educate the public and fellow physicians. Traditionally, many bloggers have assumed that readers are most interested in information presented at prestigious and popular scientific meetings. As a result, the readers and bloggers often ignore blogs of local scientific meetings. We hypothesize that blog readers will utilize blogs about local scientific meetings less than those about national meetings.
We examined nephrology-pertinent blogs from 2010-2012. Blogs were categorized as "local/regional" or "national/international" based on the majority of the audience that attended the live scientific meeting. We tracked the number of pageviews, reading time, and location of use per blog for the first 90-days after its first availability on the website. Wilcoxon testing was performed on all data.
There were 9 local/regional and 11 national/international scientific meetings for which blogs were available. The mean number of page views was significantly lower in blogs from local/regional than national/international conferences (84.7 versus 160.3, respectively; p < 0.01). However, the mean difference in total reading time between both categories of blogs was not significant (p = 0.25).
Data from this investigation do not fully support the hypothesis that readers utilized local/regional blogs less than national/international blogs. Although local/regional blogs attracted fewer readers (lower pageviews), the content in these blogs was compelling enough to keep the reader equally engaged as with national/international blogs.

Introduction

An increasing number of healthcare providers author medical blogs (bloggers) to educate the public and fellow physicians13. Bloggers use this medium to report the events, discussions, and controversies that occur at scientific conferences. As a result, the blog is a valuable tool for the reader who may otherwise not have access to this information. Traditionally, many bloggers have assumed that readers are most interested in information presented at prestigious and popular scientific meetings4. Thus, they have focused their blogging efforts on large national and international conferences and have ignored smaller, local meetings5. Historically, local scientific meetings attract a smaller live audience, have a geographically restricted educational impact, and do not present much novel medical information. Nevertheless, the value of blogs that pertain to local conferences has not been studied. Given these limitations, we hypothesize that blog readers will utilize blogs about local scientific meetings less than those about national meetings.

Methods

We examined nephrology-pertinent blogs authored by the editors or administrators of Nephrology On-Demand (http://www.mynod.org). These blogs were text-based narrative reports of scientific meetings that occurred between 2010–2012. Blogs were categorized as “local/regional” or “national/international” based on the majority of the audience that primarily attended the live scientific meeting. All of the meetings were based in the United States. The only blogs analyzed were firsthand accounts written by individuals who attended live conferences and not those created from second- or third-party sources. Blogs were posted on Nephrology On-Demand and were freely available to all users at http://goo.gl/28zza. We used Google Analytics to track the number of pageviews, reading time, and location of use per blog for the first 90-days after its availability on the website. Wilcoxon tests were used to compare pageviews and reading time for each blog from different continents. JMP Pro 10 and Microsoft Excel 2007 were used for all statistical analyses.

Results

There were 9 local/regional and 11 national/international scientific meetings for which a blog was available on Nephrology On-Demand (Table 1). The most popular blogs in each category were “Guest Lecture Series: The Cardiorenal Syndrome” (local/regional; 143 pageviews) and “American Society of Nephrology Renal Week” (national/international; 365 pageviews). Overall, the mean number of pageviews was significantly lower in blogs from local/regional than national/international conferences (84.7 versus 160.3, respectively; p < 0.01) (Figure 1). For both groups of blogs, the greatest number of pageviews came from the Americas, but there was a significantly lower number of views in local/regional blogs than national/international blogs across all regions (Table 2).

Table 1. Regional category and analysis period of blogs posted on Nephrology On-Demand between 2010–2012.

Blog Category (Type)Analysis PeriodBlog NameURL*
Local/Regional7/5/11 - 10/3/11Guest Lecture Series: Fistula First - Do all comers qualify?6212
Local/Regional4/21/11 - 7/26/11Role of High Blood Pressure in Prevention of CVD6695
Local/Regional3/27/11 - 6/25/11Renal Transplantation Update at East Carolina University6451
Local/Regional3/2/11 - 5/31/11Guest Lecture Series: Physical Exam of AVF6224
Local/Regional2/14/11 - 5/15/11Guest Lecture Series: Glomerular Diseases (in-depth)5909
Local/Regional1/24/11 - 4/24/11Guest Lecture Series: Phosphate binders & Glomerular Diseases5831
Local/Regional11/1/10 - 1/30/11Recent Advances in Internal Medicine at East Carolina University4944
Local/Regional3/28/10 - 6/26/2010Renal Transplantation Update at East Carolina University3086
Local/Regional6/6/11 - 9/4/11Guest Lecture Series: The Cardiorenal Syndrome5990
National/International5/18/11 - 8/16/11American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & CV Disease Meeting6739
National/International4/24/11 - 7/29/11National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meetings6729
National/International11/17/10 - 2/15/11American Society of Nephrology Meeting Renal Week5161
National/International9/23/10 - 12/22/10Peritoneal Dialysis Academy4748
National/International9/4/10 - 12/3/10International Pediatric Nephrology Association Meeting4564
National/International7/26/10 - 10/19/10No. American Dialysis & Transplantation Meeting4164
National/International5/3/10 - 8/1/10American Transplant Congress Meeting3634
National/International4/14/10 - 7/13/10National Kidney Foundation Meeting3323
National/International11/11/11 - 2/9/12American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week7707
National/International2/27/12 - 5/27/12International CRRT Meeting8057
National/International5/17/12 - 8/15/12National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meetings8289
fa0a6ca9-6ae6-47eb-ac88-ff67deb69d36_figure1.gif

Figure 1. Box Plot of pageviews by blog category.

Standard box plot of pageviews of local/regional and national/international nephrology blog posts by readers from all regions (red) and the Americas only (blue) with lines representing minimum value, 25th percentile, median, 75th percentile, and maximum value within each data set. Where present, inner lines represent 10th and 90th percentile values.

Table 2. Pageviews and reading time by region and blog type (local/regional vs. national/international).

Pageviews (number)Time (seconds)
Local/RegionalNational/InternationalLocal/RegionalNational/International
All RegionsCumulative7621764189407492973
Mean84.71602104544816
Std Dev34.783.62199471934
p0.00980.2545
AmericasCumulative4901123131460333918
Mean54.41021460730356
Std Dev21.348.91475246586
p0.01660.2545
AsiaCumulative13231228200112914
Mean14.728.4313310265
Std Dev9.620.0271821422
p0.03320.3619
EuropeCumulative1112173308230186
Mean12.319.736762744
Std Dev8.818.956722699
p0.42430.4941
OceaniaCumulative7.017.017543495
Mean0.81.5195318
Std Dev0.81.9455835
p0.44850.5292
AfricaCumulative19.066.0144934321
Mean2.16.01613120
Std Dev2.03.32175518
p0.00840.0049

Table 2 also indicates the total time spent reading local/regional and national/international blogs. Readers spent a cumulative total of 2.5 times more hours reading national/international than local/regional blogs. However, the mean difference in total reading time between both categories of blogs was not significant (p = 0.25) (Figure 2). Readers from the Americas spent the greatest amount of total time reading the blogs than from any other region, but there was no statistical difference in the time spent reading either category (p = 0.25).

fa0a6ca9-6ae6-47eb-ac88-ff67deb69d36_figure2.gif

Figure 2. Box Plot of reading time by blog category.

Standard box plot of reading time of local/regional and national/international nephrology blog posts by readers from all regions (red) and the Americas only (blue) with lines representing minimum value, 25th percentile, median, 75th percentile, and maximum value within each data set. Where present, inner lines represent 10th and 90th percentile values.

Discussion and conclusions

Data from this investigation do not fully support the hypothesis that readers utilized local/regional blogs less than national/international blogs. Although local/regional blogs attracted fewer readers (lower pageviews), the content in these blogs was compelling enough to keep the reader equally engaged as with national/international blogs (as there were statistically similar reading times). The latter finding is surprising because it suggests that information presented at local conferences can keep the attention of the reader as effectively as national conferences. Blogs open local conferences to the global community6. In addition, local conferences are conducted at a greater frequency and held at a wider variety of institutions than national/international conferences. The information presented through blogs would be more frequent and present a greater diversity of ideas than blogs of just national/international meetings7.

Further investigations are needed to determine what features local/regional blogs need to have in order to be viewed by a similar number of readers as the national/international blogs. Such features, if identified and incorporated, would greatly increase the value of local/regional scientific conferences. This exploratory investigation suggests that once these readers view a blog, the content within that blog will keep them engaged, no matter where it was presented.

Open Peer Review

Current Referee Status: ?

Referee Responses for Version 1

Manish Ponda
Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA
Approved: 08 January 2013
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Tushar Vachharajani
Section of Nephrology, W.G. (Bill) Hefner Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Salisbury, North Carolina, USA
Approved: 20 December 2012
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Article Comments

F1000Research is an Open Science journal with rapid open access publication, followed by invited, open peer review and open discussion. All articles have full data deposition.
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