Students 4 Best Evidence

By Selena Ryan-Vig


Communications & Engagement Officer

Cochrane UK

Brief Synopsis of the project

Students 4 Best Evidence (S4BE) is an online community for any student interested in evidence-based health care. The main aim is to promote interest in, and understanding about, evidence-based decision-making among students. Social media plays a key role in this; providing a platform to share blogs and resources about understanding evidence.

Screenshot 2017-12-20 13.17.07

What did you do?

The website comprises blogs written by students of all ages (from school-age to PhD) from all over the world.  It’s by – and for – students, with bloggers studying a range of different subjects. This includes, but is not limited to, medicine, physiotherapy, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry and so on. Not all registered bloggers study a healthcare-related subject though, with one studying chemistry for instance, and another studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics. This reflects the fact that the ability to understand evidence cuts across numerous disciplines; both healthcare and non-healthcare related.

On average, one blog is published per week (although this fluctuates in accordance with students’ busy academic calendars!). Examples of blogs include ‘a beginner’s guide to odds ratios, confidence intervals, and p-values’ and ‘statistical significance vs. clinical significance’. To date, nearly 500 blogs have been published and over 1000 students are registered on the website. S4BE also has around 5400 followers on Facebook and 4200 on Twitter.

The use of social media is key in the running, and promotion of, S4BE. Whenever a blog is published, these are shared on Facebook, Twitter and Google +, to allow readers to comment and contribute to the discussion. Social media is also a key way that new student bloggers are found. When an interesting topic is identified, a ‘pitch’ is put out via social media, asking if any students would be interested in writing a blog for the website.

Screenshot 2017-12-20 13.18.19

Moreover, resources for understanding and learning more about various elements of evidence-based practice are regularly shared via social media. These could be anything from statistics tutorials, articles on how to conduct critical appraisal or guidance on searching for evidence.

So what?

Twitter especially provides an excellent platform for sharing useful resources with busy students! We’ve learnt not to be afraid of re-sharing useful tools and guidance – given that the content on Twitter passes so quickly, our tweets can be missed, so we haven’t seen any harm in re-sharing useful content.

However, we have had mixed success attracting new student bloggers to the site via Twitter. Occasionally, if we put a call out asking for students to blog on a particular topic, we may have several expressions of interest. Other times we may have none. Whether this is a reflection on the particular topic, the medium of advertisement or simply because students are busy isn’t always clear.

What was the impact?

Since launching in 2013, S4BE has grown year-on-year. We have nearly double the number of Facebook and Twitter followers compared to this time last year, and the website had nearly 60,000 visits in November 2017 alone. It can be difficult to assess the impact the site may have on students’ understanding of evidence-based practice. However, we recently sought feedback from a small group of students who expressed enthusiasm for the website. The main criticism was that some of them had not previously heard of the site, reaffirming the need for better promotion of S4BE.

Now what?

The S4BE evidence website is currently being re-designed, with the aim of making it even more accessible and useful for students. User-testing will inform this process. Although some of this user-testing will take place face-to-face, social media will also be key in obtaining feedback from students globally. (This is particularly important given the global reach of the site, with particularly large proportions of visitors to the site based in Canada, The United States and South America). The new site will be up and running by mid 2018, so watch this space!

To view the Students 4 Best Evidence website CLICK HERE

Or follow @Students4BE on Twitter

Or like Students 4 Best Evidence on Facebook

If you’d like to blog for Students 4 Best Evidence, or have any questions about the website, please get in touch with Emma Carter, who facilitates the site: 


Disseminating research through Visual Abstracts


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By Hannah Ames, Adult Nurse Lecture at The University of Plymouth and Critical Care Nurse




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& Laura Hunt, Critical Care Education Sister at Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust

Brief Synopsis of the project

We started a Nurse’s Journal Club after identifying a need to engage our nursing staff in up-to-date and relevant Critical Care research.  Constrained to only 30 minutes to present and discuss research papers we were looking for a quick and effective way to disseminate the main research finding. Through engagement in the social media platform Twitter, we discovered the work of Andrew Ibrahim who visually summarises and shares key points from a research study in the form of a “Visual Abstract” (#VisualAbstract). For this blog, we have included examples of one type of Visual Abstract that we have produced and shared.

What did you do?

We wanted to encourage our nurses to engage in discussing and questioning research studies related to our practice to facilitate evidence informed decision-making.

Andrew Ibrahim the Creative Director at Annals of Surgery is currently leading the concept of ‘Visual Abstracts’ and has been working to produce novel and innovative strategies to disseminate research. They provide a visual summary of the key findings typically found in the abstract of a research article allowing the reader to quickly determine if the article is relevant to them.

A typical visual abstract would

  • Summarise the key question being addressed
  • Summarise the outcomes
  • Cite the author, citation and year of publication
  • State outcome comparison
  • Visually display the outcome along with numerical data

vis ab


Once we had created our own visual abstract, as seen above we would then display it during the discussion element of our Journal Club further emphasising the research outcome. The abstracts are then shared on Twitter and a staff educational Facebook page (N-STAR) along with a URL link giving full access to the journal article.

vis ab 2

So what?

What worked well?

We need to get nursing staff actively engaged and discussing research. Visual Abstracts provide a platform for deeper engagement and facilitate a discussion about the articles findings. There visual format allow for them to be easily viewed on social media and grab the attention of the reader.  Once shared on Social Media we also provide the full text link so the complete article can be accessed. This allows staff to look at it in their own time enhancing and contributing to their own professional development. This specifically benefits those nurses who were unable to attend the Journal Club. Leading to an increase in staff awareness and has encouraged nurses to question aspects of their own practice.

Historically many nurses have shied away from reading or accessing lengthy Journal Articles. In our opinion, the Visual Abstract has broken down this barrier and has led to an increase in Nurses engaging in reading, understanding and questioning clinical research.


Unexpectantly after sharing our #VisualAbstracts on Twitter, we also received direct and constructive feedback from Andrew Ibrahim on their quality and format giving us ideas of how to improve them further. Allowing this work to be shared and critiqued on Social Media highlights one of the fundamental ways in which Twitter has transformed professional and working relationships across the globe.

What didn’t?

Due to copyright laws we are finding it increasingly difficult and time consuming to find suitable free infographic images. We have also found that only certain types of research studies i.e. Quantitative research lends itself to being presented in the visual abstract format. For example, multiple outcomes or opinions have been difficult to summarise.

One of the potential pitfalls of Visual Abstracts that has been highlighted includes oversimplifying the paper and distorting the reader about the implications of the findings (Ibrahim, 2017). Consequently, this is an area of practice, which we would like to evaluate and audit in the future. It is essential that staff still access the full article and critically analyse the research outcomes and do not take the results displayed in the visual abstract at face value.

What was missing?

The main component of the #VisualAbstract is to improve research dissemination through Social Media. Unfortunately, a large proportion of Band 5 Clinical Nurses within our department do not use a professional Twitter account. Therefore, many Nurses do not have access to the opportunities that Twitter can provide.

The use of Visual Abstracts in the UK remains in its infancy and there is currently no research to suggest that they have been adopted as part of research dissemination within UK published Journals despite its growing popularity demonstrated within the USA.

What was the impact?

Visual Abstracts continue to grow and are now adopted in over 30 American Journals. Recent studies by Ibrahim (2017) showed that when research was presented in a #VisualAbstract format on Twitter the media engagement related to that research article increased by 2.7 fold and article retweets by 8.4 fold.

vis abs3

One of the first Visual Abstracts that we produced and published on Twitter still gained a large amount of Social Media attention (as seen above). This demonstrates its potential scope in disseminating research to healthcare professionals.

We recognised that not all of our nurses used Twitter consequently we needed to use other Social Media platforms to improve the engagement and knowledge of #VisualAbstracts such as our educational page N-STAR on Facebook.

Impact beyond Social Media evidence into practice

I think we can both say that using the Visual Abstracts has significantly influenced clinical practice. In one particular study the HEAT Trial, being able to display the control and intervention results side by side increased the impact factor of the results. It generated a lot of discussion around practice and as a result, nurses began to question and challenge medical staff on their routine practice of administering and prescribing of paracetamol for fever in critically ill patients.

Now what?

We need to be looking at new creative ways to support post-registration learning and development and we need to be realistic about what is achievable in the demanding clinical environment. Visual Abstracts are key to providing a quick and graphical representation of research, which can be easily disseminated through social media platforms to staff allowing us to improve the care we provide for our patients.

We recommend that the next stages of development in this field include,

  • Raising awareness of the use and production of Visuals Abstracts in the UK.
  • Working with social media and research professionals to develop the concept of Visual Abstracts and there implementation.
  • Encouraging more nurses to engage in using Social media platforms to facilitate learning.
  • Evaluating the impact of Visual Abstracts specifically related to Nursing research dissemination and engagement.
  • Highlight the awareness of Visual Abstracts with other members of the Multidisciplinary team and encourage further adoption.

How might this be taken forward?

It would be fantastic to see this adopted within practice around the UK. We hope that HARTS can help us to demonstrate the impact of Visual Abstracts helping to increase awareness and support its dissemination into practice.




Ibrahim AM, Lillemoe KD, Klingensmith ME, Dimick JB.(2017)  “Visual Abstracts to Disseminate Research on Social Media: a prospective, case-control crossover study” Annals of Surgery.  Apr 26. 

Ibrahim A.M. (2017) “Seeing is Believing: Using Visual Abstracts to Disseminate Scientific Research.” American Journal Gastroenterol.  Sep 19

YouTube as a research tool

By Selena Ryan-Vig

Communications & Engagement Officer

Cochrane UK

Brief Synopsis of the project

We used social media, specifically YouTube, as a research tool to explore the views of individuals with personal experience of self-injury. In particular, individuals’ views around ‘recovery’ from self-injury were explored. The YouTube videos analysed had been shared freely by individuals whose views may be otherwise difficult to access, providing a rich source of qualitative data.



What did you do?

This was an undergraduate dissertation project, supervised by Dr Jeff Gavin and Dr Karen Rodham.

Little is known about what ‘recovery’ means to individuals with personal experience of self-injury. This may hinder helpful approaches to the issue. YouTube, the popular video-sharing website, provided the opportunity to address this gap. This is because YouTube features a prolific number of videos in which individuals discuss self-injury, representing a rich naturalistic data source. In this study, we explored how YouTube video-uploaders, with self-reported experience of self-injury, discuss ‘recovery’ within their videos. A number of searches were conducted on YouTube, using terms related to ‘recovery’ and ‘stopping’ ‘self-injury’ and ‘self-harm’. The 30 most highly-viewed videos featuring text or discussion about recovery from self-injury were thematically analysed. The videos had been uploaded by 25 different individuals (21 females; 4 males). All data was anonymised and ethical approval was obtained. Five themes were identified: 1) a desire for change; 2) taking control over self-injury; 3) coping with underlying feelings; 4) developing self-worth; and 5) help-seeking and support. The findings suggested that the way in which a given individual understands their self-injury might point towards particular types of advice or support.

So what?

Traditionally, help-seeking rates for self-injury are low. As a result, it can be difficult to obtain access to the views of individuals affected by self-injury in more traditional ways (e.g. surveys or interviews).

In this context, using YouTube as a research tool had a number of benefits. As of 2010, there were over 5000 self-injury related videos on YouTube, the 100 most-watched of which had been viewed over 2,000,000 times. So self-injury related videos on YouTube are prolific and these videos often feature candid in-depth testimonials. Additionally, these videos had been created by individuals of their own accord, at a time relevant to them. In contrast, prior research exploring how individuals understand ‘recovery’ have interviewed individuals who had stopped self-injuring many years before. So analysing YouTube videos gave greater insight into the ‘here-and-now’ of ‘recovery’.

However, there were some drawbacks to the approach used. In particular, the findings cannot necessarily be generalised to wider self-injuring populations. For example, those who upload YouTube videos may be more help-seeking than those who do not. Also, due to the observational nature of the research, demographic information including age and ethnicity could not be verified. Nor was it possible to interact with video-uploaders to obtain their perspectives on our interpretation of the data. As a result, while the research aimed to give voice to these individuals, this is somewhat limited by the nature of an observational analysis.

What was the impact?

Overall, this project was a testament to the value of YouTube as a research tool.


The themes identified in this study have implications for individuals supporting those who self-injure. One notable observation was that the way in which individuals discussed ‘recovery’ often related to the way in which they understood their self-injury. For instance, those who talked about self-injury as a way to manage intense emotions spoke about how finding alternate ways to manage their emotions was important for recovery. Alternatively, those who discussed their self-injury as stemming from a lack of self-worth, talked about developing an improved sense of self-value as important for recovery. We hope this will be recognised by those who support those who self-harm: as it implies that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to support may not be appropriate. It also highlights the importance of understanding an individual’s reasons for self-injuring.

Now what?

We are hoping to be able to publish this project in a journal.

This study raised a number of interesting questions which could be explored in future research. For example, it was beyond the scope of the study to explore viewers’ responses to these videos. Research investigating the possible influence of viewing such content, such as on attitudes and behaviour relating to self-injury and/or help-seeking, would be valuable.

If there was an opportunity to build on this project, it would be interesting to focus more in-depth on the role that YouTube itself may play in recovery, for video-uploaders and viewers. Both potential positive and detrimental implications should be considered. For example, although these individuals are discussing recovery, it would be worthwhile exploring whether continuing to communicate about self-injury might inadvertently (re-)trigger and/or serve to maintain the behaviour

How might this be taken forward?

I hope that others might consider using YouTube as a research tool to explore the views of individuals who may be otherwise difficult to access. It is important to be aware of the ethical issues when analysing YouTube videos. But given that the videos are in the public domain, the current consensus is that they can be analysed as long as all data is anonymised.

If the appropriate care is taken, I believe observational research of this kind can be a powerful way for research to give voice to individuals whose views may often be overlooked, particularly those individuals who are unlikely to seek help and/or are affected by stigmatised health concerns.


The PUNC Project – Plymouth University’s Nursing Cohort

Screenshot 2017-09-25 11.00.47

By Meriel Chudleigh

Lecturer in Adult Nursing at Plymouth University


Earlier this year, a group from the HARTSofthepossible team met in Oxford to reflect on progress and to plan what was needed next. We came up with a Rainbow Prism Model to show the three areas of our work: sharing research through social media; using social media for research and innovation; and research about how social media works. At the centre of all of these is the need to demonstrate impact. You can read more in this blog

This post follows the template we set out during that meeting:

Screenshot 2017-05-16 18.53.13

Brief synopsis

Ray Jones, Janet Kelsey, Pam Nelmes and others in the School of Nursing and Midwifery and external leaders in professional use of social media started the PUNC project in 2014. PUNC intended to introduce nursing students to elements of digital professionalism as part of their structured and assessed education at Plymouth University.


A case study approach examined the feasibility of including Twitter as an assessed curriculum element. Specifically social media (SoMe) included @PUNC (Plymouth University Nursing Cohorts twitter account) introduced as an example of professional use of SoMe.  It required first year students to set up a linked @punc twitter account and ‘tweet’ in their first nursing module of the BSc Nursing degree.

Screenshot 2017-09-25 11.13.53

So what?

What worked well? The project gained additional acceptance from student nurses in the second cohort due to improved peer support and emphasis on linking with wider nursing communities. Twitter presence of PUNC became evident during scheduled tweet chats and my perception of this is it has raised the profile of the school of nursing and increased engagement with clinicians, patients and other students. Some students and educators really grasp use of SoMe as a tool and others are more sceptical. The validation that a formal research project presents helps to provide sound evidence to encourage participation. Publication and dissemination encourages debate and this can challenge preconceived ideas and lead to genuine critical appraisal of the opportunities presented.

What did not work? The fact that some students and some professionals are sceptical is not surprising. The innovators at the centre of the work did find resistance from groups of students, with small numbers feeling that the project unfairly imposed on their privacy and they selected an alternative assessment in the form of an essay.

Any gaps? The project continues to evolve beyond the initial research. This fits with the opportunities for innovation and adaptation that come with the use of digital technology and SoMe.

What was missing? There are opportunities for further research. The initial case study provides a basis for further exploration of SoMe and formal professional education.


PUNC continues to grow with a combined team of students and educators sharing the curation of the account. To date there have been twelve thousand tweets sent from @PUNC14 and it has 2736 followers. Although this does not necessarily indicate impact, the account actively engages with current professional issues and role models professional SoMe behaviours. The first PUNC student Plymouth University graduation ceremony is on the 24th September 2017 and it is evident that some innovative students are taking their use of SoMe into their preceptorship roles.

Digital professionalism remains a key assessed element of the first module of the Plymouth University Nursing curriculum, providing further opportunities to explore the potential benefits and possible limitations and intricacies of digital technologies in professional education

Now what?

What will you do next for this piece of work?

A more formal assessment of the current impact of @PUNC14 may be an option for future work and an examination of other possibilities is being actively supported and encouraged, by the core innovators of the original project.



Sharing research through social media: the peripheral venous catheters story from Cochrane UK


By Sarah Chapman

Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK


Earlier this year, a group from the HARTSofthepossible team met here in Oxford to reflect on our progress and to plan what was needed next. We came up with a Rainbow Prism Model to show the three areas of our work: sharing research through social media; using social media for research and innovation; and research about how social media works. At the centre of all of these is the need to demonstrate impact. You can read more in this blog

This post follows the template we set out during that meeting:

Screenshot 2017-05-16 18.53.13

We agreed we would start with what we know, by sharing and learning from some past examples of doing each of these things. So I’m starting with an example of sharing research through social media, from Cochrane UK.

Brief synopsis

We used social media to share a newly updated Cochrane review, with high quality evidence, informing and supporting the recommendation in UK and international guidelines that peripheral venous catheters (PVCs) should be replaced only when clinically indicated rather than routinely. Our primary target audience was nurses and we first shared this during the launch of our new series ‘Evidence for Everyday Nursing’ (#EENursing).

What did we do?

Across 2 weeks in November 2015:

  • Summarized this research in an Evidently Cochrane blog, the first blog of our new series Evidence for Everyday Nursing #EENursing
  • Guest-hosted a #WeNurses tweetchat on this research, with participation by two of the nurse-researchers who were authors of this review, to explore practitioners’ views on the evidence, whether current practice was evidence-based and whether it could support a change in practice if not.
  • Published another Evidently Cochrane blog, summarizing and reflecting on the tweetchat
  • Made a blogshot (see image below) giving a key message from this review and shared on Twitter, with a link to the full review, and posted it on Pinterest


Replacing PVCs CD007798 Mar 17


Since then:

  • Made a vlogshot – moving slides sharing the same information as a blogshot; shared on Twitter
  • Blogshot and vlogshot shared repeatedly on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and made available for viewing, downloading and sharing on Tumblr


So what?

What worked well?

This blogshot is the most widely shared of all our blogshots. The blogshot format is proving popular; we know images work well on social media. The information is quick to access and to share, with a link to get to fuller information if desired. It will be quick and easy to update when the Cochrane review is updated. The #EENursing series ‘branding’ (hashtag and series blogshot template) makes it easier for people to spot that it might be of interest to them.

Joining with @WeNurses for the tweetchat was crucial. This enabled us to engage with an established community of nurses and to take advantage of the mechanisms that the WeCommunities have established for holding successful tweetchats, from promoting them in advance, providing pre-reading and questions to be addressed in the chat, running them smoothly, and gathering tweetchat data. Collaborative work like this also strengthens existing relationships, and we enjoy it!

The tweetchat was lively, revealing and practice-changing; more of that below. It was worth the time it took to summarize key points from the conversation in a blog. This is a much easier way for people to catch up with a chat, including those who took part, than going through a stream of archived tweets. However, I was only able to do this because of the ‘raw’ data from the chat, captured by WeNurses.

What didn’t?

We put this blogshot, along with our others, on Pinterest, but then found that Pinterest wouldn’t support the link to the full review (or blog).

We originally included explicit reference to evidence quality according to GRADE, but have since removed this from all our blogshots as we realised that this won’t be understood by most people. Instead, we now use GRADE to inform the phrasing of the key message.

What was missing?

At the time, we shared very little on our Cochrane UK Facebook page We have since learned that we get more people coming to our blogs from Facebook than from Twitter , so we now share the blogs, blogshot and vlogshot on Facebook too. We have recently started sharing our blogshots and vlogshots on Instagram and Snapchat.


 Social media impact

The blog summarizing this review had more traffic from social media (as opposed to through Google searching) than any other Evidently Cochrane blog in the first six months after publication and both this and the blog about the tweetchat continue to be read and shared. The blogshot and vlogshot get multiple retweets when shared and the vlogshot does particularly well on Facebook. Facebook and Twitter are the two platforms where we have most engagement with nurses; conversation about the evidence is mostly on Twitter. We had lots of positive tweets about the way we shared this research and not only from nurses. One medical student tweeted that he might print out the blog and carry it round with him! The tweetchat had 63 participants sharing over 400 tweets, with a reach of 6,138,377, and it didn’t end there. Which bring us to…

Impact beyond social media – Evidence into practice

This is where it gets exciting! The impact we’re most interested in is whether it influenced practice. Providing best evidence to inform decisions and so improve health is the fundamental aim of Cochrane and so this underpins all we do. The tweetchat revealed wide variation in practice and two nurses tweeted their intention to take action as a result of learning about this evidence and discussing it with peers. We used Twitter to follow up what they did. One, an Infection Prevention Nurse, initiated a change in policy as a result and was waiting for the changes to be approved when we last heard. The other, a student nurse, was told by his ward sister that it was Trust policy but said he would be taking it up with his local infection prevention team.

Building relationships

When reflecting on the impact of our social media use, we also consider whether we have been able to make new connections or build on existing relationships. Having a tweetchat with WeNurses and enlisting their support in helping us launch the #EENursing series, as well as this research, no doubt increased our reach but also built on, and furthered, our relationship. We made new links on Twitter with individuals and groups working in infection prevention and vascular nursing.

Now what?

What were your learning points?

  • Tweetchat: bringing together researchers (including authors of the review), nurses and practitioners from other disciplines in a tweetchat was valuable for their different knowledge and perspectives. Think beyond a single audience – using #WeMDT rather than #WeNurses may have attracted more from the multi-disciplinary team.
  • Making information quick and easy to access, in a variety of formats and at different levels of complexity, increases the number of people likely to see, share and use it.
  • Research on common practices, shared in easy formats on social media, is useful to healthcare practitioners.
  • Summarizing tweetchats in a blog is time-consuming but worth doing.
  • Metrics such as the number of blogs views, or retweets, give us a sense of how popular something is, or how widely seen, but don’t tell us very much. When someone tells us that it has changed what they do, that is a fabulous example of impact. It needs to be captured and, ideally, followed up.

 What will you do next for this piece of work?

 Update all the social media products when the review is updated, and keep sharing them. We would like to have a blog from the nurse who initiated a change in policy, telling this story.

What will you do next for other pieces of work?

More blogs, where possible combining an evidence summary with a reflection from practice, on key clinical topics and practices, along with related products (blogshots, vlogshots). More tweetchats, to be followed by a summary blog and an attempt to follow up stories of ‘real life’ impact.

We are seeking nurses’ views about the usefulness of the ways we share research through social media and how we could improve. We will take the learning from this to develop the series, with a view to evaluating and revising our other ‘Evidence for Everyday’ series (for midwives, allied health professionals and patients/people making health choices).

What will you ‘drop’ for future work?

We dropped Pinterest when we realized it didn’t support the links.

 Anything else to comment upon?

Keeping the content of our social media products up to date is important for us. Cochrane reviews are periodically updated and we want to keep sharing content and for people to know that it relates to the latest evidence. This is quick and easy for the blogshots and vlogshots, but more complicated for the blogs.

Relationships are vital! Linking with the WeCommunities helps us enormously in sharing our work widely and quickly. More generally, Twitter continues to be a brilliant place to discuss research and to network, with online connections sometimes leading to new collaborations.

It’s important to watch and respond, not just share and run! We sometimes add the most value by spotting that someone is looking for information that we can provide, or by responding to feedback on what we’ve shared. There was a valid criticism on Twitter of an image of an asthma inhaler accompanying our blog; we changed it.

How could HARTS take this forward?

 It would be great to see elements of this adopted, and possibly adapted, in other contexts.  Blogshots began with an idea by HARTS’ Teresa Chinn and are easily adapted for other purposes; @ZotVet is doing this within the veterinary community!

A blog with dual perspectives, and bringing together people with a variety of expertise in a chat, then pulling out key points, would work well in many contexts.

It seems that all of us using social media in a professional context need to be able to demonstrate impact, but working out how best to measure or capture this is a considerable challenge – one we will continue to pursue. This is the element that is common to all three strands of the HARTS Rainbow Prism Model and I am really interested to see what we discover about how this can be done.


Bedrock Foundations and Mapping

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By Claire Whitehouse, Lead Research Nurse, James Paget NHS Trust

Originator of #whywedoresearch


AND Carolyn Jackson, Director England Centre for Practice Development

Fab Ambassador for Academy of Fab Stuff

@ECPDCarolyn @EC4PD




Update on our journey so far:

This blog shows the initial development of the HARTSofthepossible national campaign. We recently met in Oxford at Cochrane UK to review our progress so far and set plans for the coming months.


The first task was to review our progress since launching and reflect on the success that has already come through both those in the Steering Group and our various networks and events. Following the #HARTSofthepossible launch via tweetchat on January the 5th 2017, we were really encouraged by the response. The vision was viewed as something which was needed and the wording was appreciated, however there were also concerns that some people (potentially including some of us) didn’t entirely understand what it was about. We agreed it is important to lay strong foundations that form the bedrock of our priority areas before launching into any programmes of work. It is important to us all to recognise and celebrate examples of what has been achieved already using SoME taking a strengths based approach so that people understand HARTS to be a trusted and reliable resource. Great discussion ensued and the result after much chatter and laughter was a rainbow prism model which displays the three platforms of HARTSofthepossible work. (Imagine the Pink Floyd Prism with a rainbow shedding light on our work).

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The Rainbow Prism Model of three platforms of HARTS work

harts 3

To put this into practice we plan to be systematic in our approach to disseminating exemplars of good practice over the next 6 months so that we can showcase the application of the resource. Key steps we felt important are:

  • Use examples – Start with what we know
  • Learn from them
  • Regroup – What does good look like?
  • Optimize impact
  • Measure impact

Ensuring a voice for all is really important and in reflecting on the platforms (pictured) we have confirmed a blog schedule to include voices from individuals and/or organisations who have differing experiences of social media use. Our early thinking looks a bit like this and we are going to test this model out between now and September.

Screenshot 2017-03-08 14.47.21

Template for Sharing Our Work through a Blog Series

We went on to co design a blog template which we are going to start using in our next blog in April.:

Brief synopsis (V++brief) 50 words + a link

(Driscoll Reflective Model)

What? Specific to the SoME element of the project e.g. what did you do?
So what? What worked well? What didn’t? Any gaps? What was missing?
Impact? What was the SoME impact?

What beyond that → how did that affect practice &/or decision making

Now what? What were your learning points?

*      What will you do next for this piece of work?

*      What will you do next for other pieces of work?

*      What will you ‘drop’ for future work?

Is there anything else you would like to make comment upon…?
How do you think HARTS could/might take this forward?

When people submit, their completed blog template will be reviewed by the HARTS core group as peer review prior to being formally “accepted” + published. If you have a blog that you wish to submit then please do tweet us via #HARTSofthepossible or leave a blog comment below.

Our approach will be to get feedback on the HARTS blogs through a HARTS twitter discussion and by an open invitation to leave feedback and commentary. We felt our approach should be:

  • Person(s) write blog using blog template
  • 2 People from HARTs group role model leaving comments and invite 2 other networks to comment also to get the ball rolling

We are delighted that Derek Stewart (@DerekCStewart) has joined us as a patient representative to help us ensure that experts by experience are included, we also hope to ensure we have blogs from the student perspective, organisational perspective, and a varied professional perspective. So watch this space for upcoming blogs exploring the theme of research and social media from all of these varied perspectives.

We are all going to get together again at basecamp in early September up in Salford to review our progress. By that time we will also have taken part in the #WhyWeDoResearch tweetfest in May, and had the chance to tell everyone at the Vibrant Health 17 Summit being held in Canterbury 20-21 July all about our progress. CAN’T WAIT!!!

As always the HARTS team ended the day with a Haiku – which is shared below:


“Curiosity… with a purpose”. Starting out together on health research through social media

screenshot-2017-01-18-09-57-21 Sarah Chapman

Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK





“Share your jewels before they’re shined.”


Wise words from Deborah Bull (@BullDeborah), dancer, writer and now Assistant Principal (Culture and Engagement) at King’s College London, whom I heard speak at the British Science Association event ‘Culture Shock’. We’d come together to explore what’s possible when professionals look beyond their own discipline and culture to be inspired, challenged and provoked about how they engage with different audiences and approach interdisciplinary partnerships.

Bull was talking about beginnings, the blank canvas. Those jewels? Don’t wait until something’s perfect before you allow others to see it and contribute. Be open; hold to your values, and recognize that you can strengthen ideas by opening them up to others. Get good people around you – old heads and new ones.

I was reminded of all this as we approached our first tweetchat about #HARTSofthepossible, offering our unpolished jewel for general scrutiny and inviting fresh ideas. We weren’t disappointed! Over 120 good people came together in this chat, to throw around our initial ideas and offer insights and possibilities. The importance of questioning, critical thinking, sharing, planning and acting were all stressed during the chat. David Barton (@Bartontd) shared this quote from writer Zora Neale Hurston: “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” We will need not to lose sight of either curiosity or purpose with this project!

HARTS is all about Health And Research Through Social Media; so what does, and could, this look like? What might be possible and what obvious challenges do we face? Here’s a taste of what we discussed; very much a conversation starter – do let’s keep talking!

Bigger, faster, better connected…

Social media’s vast scope for sharing research, knowledge and experience and was emphasized, as were the opportunities for both dissemination and participation in research. Specific populations can be targeted through groups, hashtags and individual profiles. Communities like #whywedoresearch increase understanding and awareness and create knowledge networks. Research processes may be enhanced by social media in terms of speed, access, breadth and opportunities for collaboration. It brings new possibilities for data collection, such as through Twitter polls. Social media may help with designing research that is meaningful and can enable researchers and research participants to share their experiences. So far, so good.

More data, or (more) useful data?

We could fall into the trap of just gathering more data; we need to use data well to turn it into useful information. To do this, we must involve service users and other citizens. There’s a wealth of data shared on social media, but evidence of its value perhaps remains elusive. A question come up that challenges me all the time in my work, disseminating evidence through social media with the ultimate purpose of improving health. That is, “how do we translate those likes, RTs and twitter chats into clinical practice change and improvement?” Not forgetting that the ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ functions aren’t used consistently anyway, so we potentially need some research on this!

Suggested areas to explore included using social media for validation of results and theming or looking at trends. It was pointed out that all research methods have their limitations. Some things are particularly hard to capture; as nurse @ShazzaHudson pointed out, “it’s complex. Learning, absorbing, challenging in Twitter changes ‘you’. This enables and inspires in real life”.


All social media can be leveraged to promote research! Making links between different digital platforms is important, turning engagement on Twitter into increased blog readership, for example. The support of influential national bodies could really help. We need to take social media to the late-adopters in health. Using social media to conduct research, we need precise and exemplary research design and a set of global principles for good research practice via social media. We’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and need a new model of research methods.

There is huge potential for recruitment to research, not just because of social media’s reach but because people may be more willing to participate via social media than when approached in clinical settings. However, the issue of consent must be addressed, and establishing trust can take time; not everything on social media is fast!


Can we ‘future proof’ existing tools, resources and methods? No! This was not felt to be a very helpful concept when we’re dealing with an ever-changing landscape; rather, adaptability will be important. Methods and methodologies evolve over time and we can influence these things. Good research practice via social media – we’ve glimpsed the future!

It feels like our jewel is starting to be polished a little! Together, the hope is that we can fashion it into something shiny and, best of all, useful.

You can find detail of the tweetchat HERE, the essence captured in a haiku below based on the tweet wordcloud, written by HARTS colleagues, Kim Manley and Carrie Jackson. When you allow cultures to merge, so much is possible!





Social media & health research … what is possible? – #WeNurses Twitterchat


Teresa Chinn MBE

RN & Social Media Specialist at WeNurses

@AgencyNurse @WeNurses



When I first started Tweeting and Blogging it was a bit of a coup that nurses (and other HCPs) would even consider being in these spaces on a professional basis  …. yet here we are 7 years later and many organisations are now actively promoting the value of connecting, working, networking, sharing and learning via social media, its been an amazing 7 years to see health turning to social media and realising the benefits of a connected world and how it can support and improve healthcare. The advent of a New Year always makes me a little reflective and looking forward to 2017 is not exception … I find myself asking “So what now? Where can we take social media in health? How can we use it to improve the lives of the people we care for?” I don’t have a crystal ball but I do know that everything is a journey and social media use in healthcare is no different, its constantly adapting and evolving and I am sure that 2017 will show this to be the case.  My reflections this year though seem to all be headed in the same direction …. If we can dream it, we can do it:



It’s the “art of the possible” and I think that if we think of a new way or a better way to use social media in health then we can always find a way to make it happen.

I have been lucky enough to be involved with a project with the England Centre for Practice Development at Canterbury University over the last 6 months along with a group of wonderfully forward thinking social media and health people.  The project has been exploring how we can develop a strategy for health research through Social Media ….. let me just say that if we go back to 7 years ago this is a concept that would have never seen the light of day, yet here is a group of people willing to not just dream it but do it, it really is the art of the possible. We believe that the unique selling point of social media use in health research is its ability to rapidly gather, share and spread evidence and knowledge at scale and they have come up with an ultimate purpose of health research through social media:


And some key values around research through social media


So lets talk about the art .. or even HARTS … of the possible: Is health research through social media possible? I think yes it is, and whats more its happening, but there is so much more in terms of potential and I certainly believe that “if we can dream it we can do it” applies here. However there is a lot of hard work ahead to ensure that this research is effective, valuable and recognised.  This, the first #Wenurses twitter discussion of 2016 aims to explore some of the strategic objectives of health research though social media:

How do we develop and use swift analytics to promote social media in research?

What can help us to promote social media in research?

What do you think of HARTS ultimate purpose of social media in research?

How do we “future proof” existing tools, resources and research methods, and align them to social media?

How do we link the HARTS social media research strategy to other national strategies?

Where can we take social media in research … what is possible?


Please join us for the first #WeNurses of 2017, to look to the future and explore the art of the possible 


If you have not joined in a Twitter discussion before this TWEETING GUIDE may help

Generating evidence via Social Media?

screenshot-2016-12-27-21-06-15  Kim Manley

Innovation/Co Director, England Centre for Practice Development & Assoc. Dir. Transformational Research & PD, East Kent Hospitals,




In the HARTS community we have agreed that the unique selling point (USP) of social media as a research method is its ability to rapidly gather, share and spread evidence and knowledge at scale. But what is meant by knowledge and evidence and how can social media be used to contribute to this?

To date, social media has focused more on sharing and spreading rather than generating evidence? Before exploring how social media may be able to contribute, it is important to review what we mean by knowledge and evidence and their relationships to research.

I work with many colleagues who have different perspectives on research, what it is and isn’t; based on different philosophical foundations, although I think it is fair to say that many often take their assumptions for granted or are unaware of the philosophical principles that underpin them.

In my work, I am particularly interested in co-creating a shared purpose collaboratively whether the activity is practice based research, development, improvement or transformation. This involves moving from individual assumptions, implied intentions and values, towards clear and collective shared purpose and meaning. In the context of research. I therefore constantly find myself checking out with colleagues what they understand the purpose of research to be? For me, research is about contributing to the ‘body of knowledge and understanding’ and in relation to any topic, using a systematic, rigorous and clear process (the method) to develop this knowledge and understanding. The topic of research may span a very broad continuum. At one end, it may be about specific technical interventions and clearly defined concepts where contexts attempt to be controlled or at the other end, the focus of research may be social phenomena such as workplace culture, systems, ways of working where complexity of contexts is acknowledged and concepts are not well defined or understood.

Data gathered in research is analysed to provide evidence to inform conclusions that contribute to knowledge and understanding. It is therefore important that data collected rigorously and transparently, is verifiable and not manipulated towards predefined outcomes. Conclusions drawn from using social media data may be further strengthened when combining sources of evidence (triangulating) arising from other methods within a critical stance, to inform conclusions.

If social media is to contribute to the body of knowledge and understanding it needs to meet the criteria of being rigorous, systematic and transparent in gathering evidence and would complement other methods.

As a research method what type of evidence and knowledge is social media best suited to developing?

Social media has been used to spread and share knowledge as mentioned above. In this context knowledge means formal, coded knowledge referred to as ‘know-that’ and captured in the written word. Social media enables simple and clear messages to be shared for this type of formal knowledge, often embellished by visual images. The other side of the knowledge coin is understanding which embraces practical and tacit knowledge referred to as ‘know-how’. This type of knowledge is embodied in people and informs practical action. It is this type of knowledge and expertise that could be a powerful source of evidence that can be tapped by social media.

Well established within the evidence based practice movement , is the use of four sources of evidence from clinical practice that are melded together, namely research ( theoretical knowledge), local data and information; professional knowledge and expertise and patient experience and preferences (Rycroft-Malone et al 2004).These authors showed that the sources of evidence could be subjected to critical and public review to achieve verification at the individual level and also showed potential for transferability to other settings Social media is well positioned to both gather data for generating evidence across all four sources (within ethical principles), as well as, acting as a verification approach and exploring potential for transferability across settings.

Returning to the beginning of this blog, clarity of purpose is highlighted and in terms of research, clear aims and well defined research questions as pre-requisites that arise from in-depth critique and thought. Research aims and questions guide the methods used. Social media with its USP of rapidity and consensus at scale has fantastic potential to contribute to knowledge and understanding from a wealth of perspectives that embrace capturing tacit knowledge and expertise, patient preferences and experience, local contextual factors and also verification.

However, this potential may be completely undermined if questions asked through this method are not given: careful consideration, are leading questions or are driven by impulsive desire for quick answers.




MCCORMACK B. (2004) What counts as evidence in evidence-based practice? Journal of Advanced Nursing 47(1), 81–90

How it all started…

screenshot-2016-12-16-13-00-56Carolyn Jackson, Director England Centre for Practice Development

Fab Ambassador for Academy of Fab Stuff

@ECPDCarolyn @EC4PD



A chance conversation with Teresa and Nick Chinn in the Spring of 2016 about getting the most out of social media for building research capacity in the health and care professions led to a light bulb moment about how we might help support the work of WeCommunities through developing a research strategy.


We invited a group of participants from a range of diverse backgrounds that embrace social media expertise and research to a collaborative workshop in the beautiful city of Canterbury in the summer of 2016 to scope out what this might look like.

The workshop used a values clarification exercise to generate a sense of shared purpose for the strategy and its contents as well as informing the development of an implementation framework and action plan.  This was the first step in a six month journey that has culminated in the #HARTSofthepossible initiative.


HARTS stands for Health And Research Through Social-media

The HARTS community believe that the ultimate purpose of health research in social media is:

To use the unique benefit of social media to rapidly gather, share and spread evidence and knowledge in a social media generated dataset to impact positively on people (care and wellbeing), and to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and equity.

We believe the ultimate purpose can be achieved through seven strategic priorities

  1. To create social movements for change through building virtual communities and strong collaborative networks for researchers, practitioners, social media leaders and wider audience to enable the sharing of ideas, creativity, academic rigour and adaptability
  1. To develop and use swift analytics to engage all stakeholders to both achieve consensus and demonstrate impact at scale (Learning how to do it)
  1. To use ambassadors, strong leadership and role-modelling to ensure communication and understanding through sharing our purpose and stories of impact
  1. We create tools and resources that can be used in multiple contexts over time (We review, adapt, change and adopt)
  1. To link the social media research strategy to other national strategies and enabling endorsement and recognition by policy makers and professional bodies
  1. To use focused events to enable, inspire and educate others about the contribution, role and impact of social media in research
  1. To develop a funding strategy


Our core values are that Social Media in research through the #HARTS community should promote:

    • Accessibility
    • Collaboration
    • Commitment/Service
    • Critique/critical review
    • Flexibility
    • Inclusivity
    • Safe environment
    • Sharing

We hope to use this blog to promote our purpose, objectives and values and drive forward the use of social media in research.

It’s amazing what a chance conversation can lead to !


Carrie’s contact details:

Email :

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