Palliative Care TikTok: Describing the Landscape and Explaining Social Media Engagement

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Journal of Palliative Medicine


Background: Although palliative care programs are beneficial to patients and families, most of the public is unfamiliar with and underutilizes palliative services. TikTok, a fast-growing social media platform worldwide, allows users to share short live-recorded videos and could be used to educate the public about palliative care. Objective: This study characterized palliative care TikTok videos and determined characteristics associated with higher user engagement metrics (views, likes, comments, and shares). Methods: The investigators analyzed the content and engagement metrics of palliative care TikTok videos. Each video was coded for author type (health care professional, patient, caregiver, or other) and demographics, features, and themes. Negative binomial regression analyses identified whether author type and themes were associated with engagement statistics. Results: After screening 510 videos, 146 met criteria for analysis. The most prominent author types were health care professionals (55.5%), followed by patients (32.9%) and caregivers (7.5%). Authors were often female (71.2%) and played music (59.5%) while talking (45.9%). Themes were describing personal experiences (47.3%), educating (39.7%), addressing misconceptions (16.4%), responding to questions and comments (14.4%), and raising awareness (11.0%). Caregivers' videos were most likely to be viewed (p = 0.003) and liked (p < 0.001), whereas health care professionals' videos were most frequently shared (p = 0.01). Engagement was highest among videos describing personal experiences (views: p < 0.001, likes: p = 0.002, shares: p = 0.003) and educating (views: p = 0.005, likes: p = 0.002, comments: p = 0.02, shares: p < 0.001). Conclusion: TikTok provides an interactive platform for patients, professionals, and caregivers to share information and experiences about palliative care, making it potentially valuable for explaining palliative care to the public.

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