An exploratory study to understand how people use Twitter to share experiences or information about spinal stenosis

Lillian L.C. Li, Arnold Y.L. Wong (Corresponding Author), Gregory N. Kawchuk

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background: Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that may compress neurological tissues resulting in pain and disability. Although previous qualitative studies have solicited data regarding the life experience of patients with spinal stenosis or their opinions on relevant non-surgical treatments, their data was collected from participants in a controlled setting. Therefore, it remains unclear whether patients’ or caregivers’ concerns/opinions about spinal stenosis would be different in a non-experimental environment. Since Twitter is a popular online platform for people to share information and interact, it may reveal people’s thoughts and attitudes about spinal stenosis. This study aimed to identify tweets that are related to spinal stenosis on Twitter, and to categorize them into common themes. Methods: A social media monitoring and analysis software program (TalkWalker) was used to search relevant tweets using the keywords 'spinal stenosis' and 'stenosis' between 29 May 2019 and 24 June 2020. Two independent reviewers screened and conducted content analysis of the tweets and classified the tweets into different themes. Results: Of 510 identified tweets, 362 tweets met the selection criteria. Five themes were identified: (1) compromised physical, psychological, and social wellbeing (n = 173); (2) diverse treatment options (n = 69); (3) coping strategies (n = 30); (4) dissemination of scientific information (n = 86); and (5) health policy (n = 4). Most of the tweets revealed negative impacts of spinal stenosis on patients' physical and psychosocial wellbeing. People with spinal stenosis shared their experiences and sought helps from others, while some people used Twitter to disseminate relevant information and research findings. Conclusions: This is the first study exploring Twitter using an online analytical tool to identify themes related to spinal stenosis. The approach not only helps understand people’s concerns about spinal stenosis in an uncontrolled environment, but also can be adopted to monitor influences of diseases or public health education on Twitter users.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
JournalChiropractic and Manual Therapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2022


  • Health information sharing
  • Physical and psychosocial wellbeing
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chiropractics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'An exploratory study to understand how people use Twitter to share experiences or information about spinal stenosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this