The findings also revealed interesting distinctions between physician-journalists and non-MDs and differences related to gender. Disease dominated the doctors’ Twitter streams while the non-MDs focused more on drugs and the pharmaceutical business. When doctors tweeted about drugs, it was largely through a prevention frame. They never mentioned exercise or diet in terms of prevention, but instead associated disease prevention with drugs. This may reflect industry marketing strategies to physicians. Non-MD female journalists, on the other hand, did connect diet and exercise to prevention in their tweets.
Given the public’s thirst for health information online, medical journalists’ tweets provide yet another avenue for acquiring that knowledge. As a whole, the findings suggest that journalists are carrying some mainstream media practices over to Twitter, while also adopting social-media-specific engagement and communication in health news journalism.