The Strange World Of Twitter: MRIs And Body Part Selfies

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THE ‘MRI gown selfie’ is apparently a bit of a thing on Twitter, as are ‘praying’ emojis.

A researcher from Charles Sturt University has coded more than 6000 tweets mentioning ‘MRI’ or ‘magnetic resonance imaging’, finding that among 96 photos, 15 patients chose to reveal photos of themselves sporting disposable treatment gowns.

Johnathan Hewis, of the university’s school of dentistry and health sciences, found a wide variety of tweeting content, styles and media in his analysis, according to the Journal of  Imaging and Radiation Sciences, as reported in Medical Observer.

“An unexpected discovery of the examination preparation process… the ‘MRI gown selfie’ seemed to transcend age,” Hewis writes, citing a patient tweet: “The MRI tech caught me taking a selfie .”

Also flaunted in the Twittersphere were images of the patients with injured or abnormal body parts, injection sites and dressings, and images of MRI films transformed into art by their owners. One patient posted a selfie while undergoing pre-MRI sedation.

Other tweets included those expressing fear about the upcoming MRI, sending thank-you messages to clinical staff, complaining about costs and billing procedures, expressing anxiety awaiting results, and requests for prayers.

Among the more unexpected and creative patient tweets were:

“Ugh having an MRI is like being inside of a pissed-off fax machine”

“When you’re getting an MRI and you have to be still and Uptown Funk comes on the radio”

More serious communications included:

“I’m having an mri scan on my heart done soon Wish me luck bc this is my only fear in the hospital i am so claustrophobic, I freak out” and

“I know the good Lord is with me in times like this. I hope and pray for good news in my MRI.”

Hewis notes that, “The prayer or praying emoji was frequently used throughout this theme.”

The research aimed to map the patient MRI journey from scheduling of the investigation through to awaiting and receiving the results and to demonstrate the potential use of Twitter for future research in to the medical radiation sciences, according to Hewis.

“This study demonstrates that patients are regularly using Twitter and social media to dynamically capture and share their MRI experiences,” he writes.

“What is not clear is the motive, particularly as many of the tweets elicited limited or no response.”

Period04 Nov 2015

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