Adoption and use of social media among registered dietitians nationwide: implications for health communication

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Description

Currently, there has been limited research on evaluating the social media use and

competency level of registered dietitian
utritionists (RD/N). With health information increasingly sought on social media, it is imperative

Currently, there has been limited research on evaluating the social media use and

competency level of registered dietitian
utritionists (RD/N). With health information increasingly sought on social media, it is imperative to understand the social media competency of health professionals. The social media use, reach, and competency level of a nationwide RD/N sample was assessed utilizing an online survey. The sample (n=500) while mostly female (97%) was representative of RD/Ns compared to the nationwide statistics from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The sample included RD/Ns from forty-six states with California (n=44), New York (n=42), and Texas (n=34) having the largest proportion of respondents. The majority of RD/Ns engage in social media for personal use (92.4%) and 39.2% engage for professional use. One hundred and twenty-five RD/Ns reported 777 ± 1063 (mean ± SD) social media followers. As compared to non-millennial RD/Ns, millennial RD/Ns engaged significantly more in social media for personal and professional use (+10% and +13.5% respectively, p<0.001) and scored significantly higher for social media competency (p<0.001). Additionally, food and nutrition management and consultant/private practice/industry RD/Ns had significantly higher competency scores than clinical RD/Ns (p=0.015 and p=0.046, respectively). RD/Ns who use social media personally and professionally had a significantly higher competency score than RD/Ns who did not (p<0.001). There were significant associations of Facebook, Twitter, total followers and total average followers with the social media competency score (r=0.265, 0.404, 0.338, & 0.320, respectively) in RD/Ns. Specifically, the social media competency score, was found to explain 16% of the variation in the number of Twitter followers and 10% of the variation in the average number of followers by platform. These data suggest an opportunity to increase RD/Ns’ social media reach (i.e. following) by improving competency level.